The Mellowing of James Lovelock

At a gathering of the Royal Society, James Lovelock professed his admiration for the climate-change sceptics. “I think the sceptics have kept us sane. They have been a breath of fresh air. The science of climate change was rapidly morphing into a fundamentalist New Age religion. Anyway, the role of sceptics in the advance of science is crucial and they should never be simply brushed aside.”

Lovelock places great emphasis on proof. The climate change projections by the Meteorological Office’s Hadley Centre were clearly flawed and the models had been pressed beyond their limit of competence. “How”, asks Lovelock, “can we predict the climate 50 or 100 years ahead when there is so much that we do not know? It is simply embarrassing to hear all these unlikely scenarios trotted out as if they were infallible. It makes everyone involved with climate science look silly.”

In the past, he admitted, he had got carried away and claimed that temperature rises could threaten human civilisation within the lifetime of our grandchildren. He no longer believed such apocalyptic stuff and now had more respect for uncertainties and dismissed as “unhelpful” the 95% probabilities preached by some of the zealots. “We don’t know what’s going to happen so we should enjoy life and do what lies to our hand. For example, in Britain, we could certainly do with more nuclear reactors.”


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