The Curmudgeon


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Environmental Niggles

Now, I'm sure we all remember Niggles - the man who is generally seen either as the last great Conservative chancellor - a perception made slightly easier by the blue-rose-coloured lenses of nostalgia and the fact that his successors were John Major and Norman Lamont - or else as the greasy-palmed chin factory who walked out on his next-door neighbour just as the poor thing was getting into her stride over Europe.

Since his resignation and subsequent demotion to the House of Lords, Niggles has apparently made a thorough study of the physics of global warming, and is now in a position to denounce the whole idea as a symptom of "the retreat from reason we see all around us today." In a lecture to that well-known haven of scientific research, the Centre for Policy Studies, our Renaissance Man accuses the Royal Society's members of "regrettable arrogance and intolerance" for claiming that "a radical change of lifestyle in the developed world" is necessary to prevent the global economy being crippled. Having spent the last few days browsing through the Stern report, Niggles observes that it "adds disappointingly little to what was already the conventional wisdom", aside from statistics which are "essentially spurious" and based on "theoretical models and conjectural worst cases". The single point on which Stern is optimistic is self-evidently the wrong one; namely the cost of reform, which "Stern almost certainly underestimates". Unlike tax cuts and privatisation, policy decisions based on Stern's findings "could have the most profound adverse effect on people's lives"; it follows, then, that the "global salvationist movement" is actively hostile towards the benign wonder of capitalism, the wondrous benignity of the market economy, and Niggles' own suggested policy of doing nothing much. "Given the fact that that the only way in which the world's poor will ever be able to escape from their poverty is by embracing capitalism and the global market economy," proclaims Niggles, the Stern report "is not good news". Having made his reasoned plea for tolerance and understanding towards the free market, Niggles proceeds to anathematise "the irrationality and intolerance of eco-fundamentalism", which treats "reasoned question of its mantras" by disinterested scientific observers like Niggles "as a form of blasphemy". Good news is truth, truth good news; that is all Niggles knows on earth, and all he needs to know.

As far as I am concerned, the question is now settled. Not only the economy, but the very sanity of our culture could depend upon it. As a matter of desperate urgency, the House of Lords must be reformed.


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