A Word from Tony Blair

I’m thinking of course of the word climate:

There are of course many other important issues in geopolitics [in addition to Afghanistan]: Covid-19, climate, the rise of China, poverty, disease and development.

— Tony Blair, Why We Must Not Abandon the People of Afghanistan – For Their Sakes and Ours, 21st August 2021

The word the world’s media picked up though was ‘imbecilic’, aimed squarely at US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the deadly incompetence of the implementation thereof. Three examples would be AP News, Politico and the BBC.

My first point is that our aim as climate sceptics has to be the removal of climate from this list, or similar lists, of major geopolitical issues. The others are important; climate isn’t.

Note I agree that Covid-19 does deserve to be there, well ahead of climate, which doesn’t. I realise not all climate sceptics would agree on the first part but I think we should be able to cope with such disagreements, if only because of what the people of Afghanistan are likely to be suffering.

What would be great then would be to discuss here not just the old Covid/climate points but the big picture of the ‘premier league’ issues we think should be occupying world leaders and how the ‘imaginary climate crisis,’ as Richard Lindzen calls it, can come to be relegated to the equivalent of England’s venerable but obscure Isthmian League.

Alan Kendall asked Mark Hodgson earlier today “Does it matter? I am divided upon this.” I feel the same way, but in this broader context. How much does it matter that our leaders are busy trying to solve, or at least pay lip service to, an imaginary crisis, given that there are much more genuine challenges afoot? And how does science play into all this? Dominic Cummings had something interesting and sobering to say on that earlier today:

Science, technology and markets bring many gains but also make destructive power greater, faster to deploy and easier to use for smaller groups and individuals. Errors dealing with deterring Germany over Belgium in 1914 and 1939 killed ~100,000,000. Crises now can go about 1,000 times faster with about a million times more destruction than in summer 1914. We had terrifying near-misses with people nearly launching nuclear missiles in the mistaken belief that the other side had launched. If we carry on with normal human history – that is, international relations defined as out-groups competing violently – and combine this with modern technology then we’re playing a sort of collective Russian roulette and it is near-certain that we will have a disaster on the scale of billions.

In fact that was making public something Cummings wrote to his paying subscribers the other day. My only subscription to any such thing at the moment. Past Cliscep contributors as diverse as Jaime Jessop and John Ridgway may well have indicated, if I was reading carefully, that they wouldn’t think it was worth the money.

We are bound to disagree on the details – as Bill Bedford, Stew Green and John Ridgway have been doing on the little matter of the Taliban and the Afghan poppy harvest, from yesterday evening on Open Mic. Call me a romantic fool but I think we should have another go at wider issues in our main posts too.

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August 22, 2021 at 02:14PM

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