It never ceases to amaze me to see Conservatives struggling with the notion of climate change, the necessary interventions governments are required to make to mitigate it, and attempts to stop it.
Owen Paterson, thankfully ‘only’ the Environment Secretary as opposed to the Climate Change Secretary, has caused a furore within environmental circles by saying that climate change will bring positives to the UK. Namely this will be due to warmer climates meaning fewer old people dying in the winter months, and being able to grow crops further up North.
The present trend from people who refuse to back measures to combat climate change is not to deny climate change exists, but rather to suggest it’s part of a natural process and that we should enjoy the benefits.
It’s just another step in the continual backwards shuffling the climate change sceptic brigade are forced into as the science gets stronger and stronger. It used to be all about sun spots and ‘dodgy’ hockey stick charts, now it’s about not denying it but subtly questioning the role mankind is playing in it, and stressing the perceived benefits to the UK. It’s the same people throwing muck to see what sticks and stop the necessary government action.
What amazes me is how difficult so many Conservatives seem to find acknowledging the reality of climate change. Of course, advocating strong government intervention goes against their instincts (though when it’s something that affects their own ideals they often become firm statists or advocates or government spending/action), fair enough.
But surely if they accept the climate is changing they should consider the potential consequences through a Conservative lens?
Consider this, if the UK gets warmer and we can grow more produce, what does Owen Paterson think will happen in countries that are already very warm? If they get warmer, and their crops start to fail, what will that mean for their countries?
Now, as technology advances no doubt anti-drought crops will increase in number, but it is generally considered that the effects of climate change will lead to an increase in crop failure. In some areas it will lead to flooding as well, affecting energy supply, crop supply and political stability.
Any politician should consider the potential fall-out from this, from an increased likelihood in civil wars as groups fight over scarce resources, to mass migration.
And we all know how Conservatives feel about immigration.
As a Conservative then, surely you should be in favour of climate change mitigation measures (if not measures to stop it outright) to reduce the likelihood of climate change-induced mass migration?
If there is such mass migration, where does Owen Paterson or similarly-minded Conservatives believe people will migrate to?
Paterson himself is advocating a vision of the UK as a sort-of Mediterranean paradise in the future, so isn’t it likely that many of the climate change ‘refugees’ (as you might term them) would try to come to the UK? Would the UK, as part of the EU and other international bodies, not be obliged to take at least some in to help cope with the mass migration?
Could our immigration system cope with a climate change induced mass migration? Could anyone’s?
When viewed this way, you can actually see Paterson’s views for what they really are – a denial of the reality of climate change, and a call to do nothing about it.
A true Conservative view of climate change would, I believe, argue in favour of climate change measures on an immigration platform alone, leaving to one side avoiding civil war, flooding in some areas, drought in others and crop failure all-round.
The fact that no Conservative actually seems to do this reveals their true opinions on climate change and the weakness of the green agenda within the Conservative movement.