Tuesday, December 01, 2015

What enviromental radical said this?

As the world leaders meet to dicuss climate issues, it is illustrative to remember these quotes:

For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world's systems and atmosphere stable.  But it is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself.

And:  

We must have continued economic growth in order to generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment.  But it must be growth that does not plunder the planet today and leave our children to deal with the consequences tomorrow.

We should always remember that free markets are a means to an end. They would defeat their object if by their output they did more damage to the quality of life through pollution than the well-being they achieve by the production of goods and services. 

Answer:  Margaret Thatcher, address to the Royal Society in September 1988, and another speech to the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989.

2 comments:

Ralf Lippold said...

Thanks Paul for giving us the mirror back in time - it is always amazing to see and learn what others have said, and discovered decades before us. We should take more care to curate the knowledge that is already available (not just in book, TV shows, and websites and newspapers) around the globe, and bring digital technology to use for collective good: our planet Earth.

Chris W. said...

It is important to remember though that even after Mrs Thatcher had been such a strong proponent for environmentalism in relation to climate change, she later realized that it was not as simple as she once thought it to be. This is a perfect example for why climate change is becoming a more divisive topic throughout the world today. Though most people believe it to be a real concern, people are more worried about how politicians are politicizing it for personal gain. This quote came in her book which was written more than 10 years (14 and 13 respectively) after the two quotes you posted. She wrote,

"The doomsters’ favorite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else.

Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism. All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method.

Indeed, the lack of any sense of proportion is what characterizes many pronouncements on the matter by otherwise sensible people. Thus President Clinton on a visit to China, which poses a serious strategic challenge to the US, confided to his host, President Jiang Zemin, that his greatest concern was the prospect that “your people may get rich like our people, and instead of riding bicycles, they will drive automobiles, and the increase in greenhouse gases will make the planet more dangerous for all.”

It would, though, be difficult to beat for apocalyptic hyperbole former Vice President Gore. Mr Gore believes: ‘The cleavage in the modern world between mind and body, man and nature, has created a new kind of addiction: I believe that our civilisation is, in effect, addicted to the consumption of the earth itself.’

And he warns: “Unless we find a way to dramatically change our civilisation and our way of thinking about the relationship between humankind and the earth, our children will inherit a wasteland.”

But why pick on the Americans? Britain’s then Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has observed: “There is no greater national duty than the defense of our shoreline. But the most immediate threat to it today is the encroaching sea.” Britain has found, it seems, a worthy successor to King Canute.

The fact that seasoned politicians can say such ridiculous things – and get away with it – illustrates the degree to which the new dogma about climate change has swept through the left-of-centre governing classes..." - Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (pp. 449–50)