Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dogmatic for the People

Listening to the Guardian Science Weekly Podcast last week I was struck by the interview with Mark Lynas.

He was being interviewed about his new book "The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans" and he impressed me with his honesty in revealing that he had simply changed his mind.
Lynus is a Science writer and environmental activist campaigning for action on Global Warming with his last book "Six Degrees" laying out the catastrophic stakes. As a leading member of the Green Movement he was always a fervent opponent of Nuclear Energy and GM Crops.

Until he wrote this latest book, that is.

Yes he has done something that Politicians regard as the ultimate sin - he has changed his mind. After analysing the scientific data he came to the conclusion that Nuclear Energy has a serious role to play in reducing Greenhouse gases and GM Crops can make a real contribution to coping with our World Population. This conversion comes against a background of Germany running scared from Nuclear Energy and planning to close all their power stations in a frantic response to the Japanese Earthquake.

The stigma attached to the "U-Turn" (Remember Mrs Thatcher?) seems to be based around the fear of admitting that you were wrong, that you made a mistake. Sticking to policies through thick and thin with grim and resolute determination is considered admirable and you can eventually prove that you were right all along. I believe there still exists a "Flat Earth Society" but you can't ignore scientific facts forever as any Lemming will tell you.

Perhaps we need to stop castigating people for "U-Turns" and start congratulating them for being pragmatic and sensible in accommodating the facts of a changing World. That means Scientific facts - I'm not condoning the habits of Governments over the last decade of dancing to the music of focus groups. It's impossible to dance to "Hocus Pocus" in my experience.


Nota Bene said...

I'm all for making u-turns. In fact I do it so often I'm dizzy. I've also long advocated it as a sensible way forwards (and backwards) for politicians. But I'm convinced, I'll never be convinced that building nuclear power stations is a good idea...

Rog said...

Nota: I'm coming round to them. They certainly are streets ahead of coal and oil burning stations in cleanliness and efficiency.

Dave said...

I've always been in favour of them. Way ahead of my time, I am.

Geoff said...

I'm dubious about everything. Nuclear & GM are good for the profits of EDF and Monsanto, that's for sure.

What percentage of UK electricity could be made by nuclear plants and how many lives worldwide would be saved by GM?

Maybe I should read the book.

Christopher said...

'...you do the Hocus Pocus and you turn around: that's what it's all about!
Oh, Hocus Pocus Pocus!
Oh, Hocus Pocus Pocus!
Oh, Hocus Pocus Pocus!
Change mind, U-turn, rah, rah, rah!'

Rog said...

Dave: Gordon's brother promotes them which is good enough for me.

Geoff: At least listen to the Podcast - it sounded pretty kosher to me.

Christopher: This is the Focus Group that sprang into my brain.

Martin H. said...

I'm sure someone said, "A man who never made a mistake never made anything." It's fear of failure that's screwing this world up. Grrr...

Hats off to Mark Lynas!

Macy said...

I have no opinion on nuclear power.
Which is pretty strange for me because I have opinions on nearly everything else.
Would it be wrong for a politician to admit that they had no opinion whatsoever on some subject?