Ken Livingstone has an article on Climate Change at Russia Times. Russia Times is an on-line news source hated by the western establishment of left and right; Ken Livingstone is a retired leftwing British politician hated by the British political establishment of left and right.
Ken was a popular and successful Labour Party leader of the Greater London Council. So Mrs Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council and installed mayoral elections for London. The Labour Party fixed the selection procedure to ensure that Livingstone wouldn’t win (US readers: think Bernie Sanders and the Democrat primaries) so he stood as an independent and won, becoming London’s first elected Mayor. In one fell swoop the political logic of decades – that “extreme views” would put off the electors – was shown to be false.
As an example of his appeal, I quote from memory an interview on BBC radio from about forty years ago, when he was accused, as leader of the Greater London Council, of wasting taxpayers’ money:
Interviewer: Aren’t you spending a lot on schemes that most citizens would consider as a waste of money?
Ken: What do you mean?
Interviewer: Well, you know, money to appeal to special interests, minorities…
Ken: Oh, you mean hostels for black lesbian single mothers? No, we don’t have a lot of those. Mind you, with the money I’ve got to spend, I could have one on every street corner if I wanted..
Cool. Ken was someone who could stand up to the insufferable self-righteousness of the BBC, someone you could like, without necessarily agreeing with him. Well, he’s retired now, and reduced to warning us about global warming at Russia Times.
But it’s people like Ken who keep the message alive. No-one, even among my leftwing Guardian-reading friends, reads Monbiot or Nuccitelli. No-one has the least idea what is in the IPCC reports. A worried word from David Attenborough in a TV nature documentary is worth a thousand earnest articles at ClimateThis and ClimateThat, or the latest Greenpeace press release. No-one reads the propaganda at a thousand EU funded blogs. People listen to the people they respect, and Red Ken still has his fans.
Unfortunately, his article is crap from beginning to end, and stale warmed-over crap at that.
Climate change threatens extinction but politicians only care about next election – Ken Livingstone
Our top-level politicians should make tackling climate change their utmost priority before it’s too late. But they’re distantly removed from the lives of citizens, and care only about winning the next election.
Well, the second sentence is true enough. The 19th century Chartists, who, as primitive socialists, are among Ken’s heroes, proposed annual elections, so that politicians would be responsive to the electors’ immediate concerns. It’s the only one of their Six Points which hasn’t been incorporated into the definition of modern democracy. There’s a solution to the short-termism of modern politicians which Ken derides – hold elections every thirty years or so, to make them accountable for the long-term. Is that what he wants?
UN chief Antonio Guterres recently warned that we face “a direct existential threat” if we do not rapidly switch from fossil fuels by 2020. The failure to do so will mean “runaway climate change,” and he has deplored the lack of global leadership by politicians to address the issue.
“Switching from fossil fuels by 2020” if it means anything, means abolishing the internal combustion engine in two years’ time. I don’t think so Ken.
“We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action,” he said, pointing out that all around the world we are experiencing record-breaking temperatures, extreme heatwaves, storms, floods, and wildfires which are leaving a “trail of death and devastation.”
He referred to the number of people killed in Kerala, India after the worst monsoon flooding in recent history. He also mentioned the 3,000 people killed by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, and wildfires on such a scale that they were sending ash around the world. Even more devastating for people living on small islands or on the coastline is the rapidly disappearing Arctic Sea ice. Guterres said that scientists have warned us about global warming for decades but “far too many leaders have refused to listen, far too few have acted with the vision that science demands.”
You all know what’s wrong with his argument so far. So far, he’s relying on the word of Antonio Guterres. Perhaps he doesn’t know much about Sr Guterres‘s qualifications in climate science. I certainly didn’t, so I took thirty seconds to find out:
He studied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon. He graduated in 1971 and started an academic career as Assistant Professor teaching Systems Theory and Telecommunications Signals, before leaving academic life to start a political career.
I find it impossible to believe that anyone like President Trump can be a climate-change denier. I have lived all my life in the city of London and remember in the late 1940s and 1950s every winter we had snowfalls, some that lasted on the ground for weeks. Most of our summers were mild and often quite wet. About once a decade, we had a really hot summer when the papers would have headlines screaming that the temperature had risen to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (around 30 degrees Celsius). Now, in the same city, we’ve had two very brief snowfalls in the last 20 years and every summer is wonderfully hot with temperatures rising into the 90s Fahrenheit. But it’s not just the change I’ve lived with in London. Back in the 1960s, once or twice a year, television news would report some major hurricane or flood, but violent weather has got so much worse that we are now seeing these incidents two or three times a month.
This is someone who has never encountered a contrarian argument. Who doesn’t know that the rise in global temperatures is so small as to be invisible to the human eye, and that the apparent rise in violent weather events is entirely attributable to the spread of portable telephones capable of recording such events. Most of his links are to articles at the Guardian. The Guardian hated Ken Livingstone, and, in its Stalinist way, did all it could to impede his political career.
In 2007, I met Dr Rajendra Pachauri who was chair of the International Panel on Climate Change and we were discussing Lord Stern’s predictions that we have barely a decade before global warming passes a catastrophic tipping point. Rajendra told me he feared we may have already passed it and at best had only a few years to avoid it.
Here Livingstone is quoting a rightwing economist appointed by his political arch-enemy Tony Blair whose work has been ridiculed by his fellow economists, and a railway engineer and amateur pornographer currently facing serious charges of sexual harassment. And the man who was for eight years the mayor of the world’s greatest city apparently feels honoured to have met them. And he clearly doesn’t understand that they are not worthy to wipe his bum (though they certainly would, for the right fee.)
The dangers of global warming are mentioned in the final version of a vital report due to be discussed at an international meeting later this month, but some of the scientists working on it have publicly said that its warnings about climate change have been toned down in order to make the publication more acceptable to countries like the US and Saudi Arabia, who are reluctant to cut emissions.
Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said:
“Downplaying the worst impacts of climate change has led to the authors omitting crucial information about the summary for policy makers.” He went on to say: “If governments do not recognize the scale and urgency of the risks, they may underestimate how critical it is to meet the goal of the Paris agreement on climate change. And that could have very serious effects in the battle to limit the impact of global warming.”
The report was commissioned by governments following the UN meeting in Paris in 2015, when it was agreed to take action to limit the increase in global temperature to less than two degrees centigrade and, if possible, try and keep the rise to nearer to just 1.5 centigrade. The meeting that is currently taking place in South Korea will make clear that a rise of two degrees will be devastating, including sea-level rise, a spread of deserts, a loss of natural habitats and wildlife, rapidly melting ice caps and an increase in the number of devastating storms.
Given the seriousness of this, it is outrageous that the final draft of the report has seen the deletion of the warning that any increase of around 1.5 centigrade will lead to a large increase in migration and conflict. The warning that the disruption of the Gulf stream could have – particularly on Europe – has been dropped, along with the prediction that ice-cap melting could see a two-meter increase in sea level in just two centuries.
Other deletions have included the analysis that “poverty and disadvantage have increased with recent warming (about one degree centigrade) and are expected to increase in many populations as average temperatures increase from one degree centigrade to 1.5 and beyond.”
Fortunately, some politicians are acting. On September 10, Governor of California Jerry Brown signed into law a bill setting a 2045 deadline for the state’s complete transition to renewable and other zero-carbon electricity. Back in August, 19 cities, including Tokyo and Paris, agreed to make all new buildings carbon neutral from 2030, and to retrofit existing buildings to the same standards by 2050. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set the target to make London zero carbon by 2050.
Yet Donald Trump’s administration is continuing to undermine the Paris deal and the president has made clear that America will withdraw from it when the rules allow him to do so in 2020. His staff continue to disrupt other politicians who are trying to achieve the Paris goals to reduce carbon emissions. Trump’s administration is also trying to make it easier for energy firms to leak methane, which is infinitely more damaging than carbon emissions. This is opening us up to the danger that we could clearly hit a three-degree-centigrade increase before the end of the century.
It’s not just politicians who are at fault, we are all involved in what is happening. There could be an increase in population of as much as three billion by the end of this century, but each of us is consuming more, buying more and wasting more across the face of the planet. We need to remember that what makes us happy is the time we have to spend with our family and our friends, not how much more we can buy only to throw it away within weeks or months.
Mark Lynas, in his book ‘Six Degrees,’ spelt out the implications of each one-degree increase. He warned an increase of six degrees will lead to the death of 95 percent of all life on the planet. Even with urgent measures to reduce carbon emissions, there would be a real danger that by the end of the century the human population will have been reduced to just a few hundred million living around the poles. Some experts are more optimistic, saying there could be two billion people alive at the end of the century, which isn’t particularly encouraging given that we have already over seven billion.
Here one of Britain’s most influential leftwing politicians of the past century is lending support to the idea that 95% of the world’s population may be killed by global warming. His reference is to a book which won a prize from the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific society, written by a lying creep who got himself appointed as a “diplomat” at the 2009 Copenhagen COPfest so that he could leak a scoop to the Guardian about the Chinese negotiating position. Nothing could be more certain to persuade the Chinese that the COP was a stitch up and that they had no reason to accede to Western demands. Who knows how many billion tons of CO2 Mark Lynas was responsible for launching into the atmosphere when he broke all the established rules for diplomacy?
One country that has set a standard all nations should aspire to is China, which nearly a decade ago launched a five-year plan towards creating a sustainable economy with renewable energy. We should now be demanding that all our politicians, presidents, prime ministers and mayors make tackling climate change the most important target of their administrations. […]
No comment. No, really. The still anarcho-syndicalist Ken Livingstone is believing the lies peddled by the far right Guardian about the archi-hyper-practical Chinese? They will burn as much coal as they sodding well like until 2030 and good luck to them. They’ve said so, and Ken doesn’t know. Because Ken reads the Guardian. Which hates him, and did everything to squash his political career for thirty years. But Ken doesn’t care. He loves Big Brother.
I met Ken Livingstone and shook his hand in 1977 when I was a member of Hampstead Labour Party and voted for his candidature in our constituency. I like him, for lots of reasons far removed from the question of climate change. Lots of other people like him and will believe him on global warming. That’s our problem.