I've had feedback on my radio scepticism (Jim Mora's Panel Thursday last) about the "Appeal to Parliament" group promoted by Sir Alan Mark. I said they were wasting their time, that I'd have to be paid to listen to their list of concerns because it sounded like Moaning Report concentrated, and that they were likely to generate the same reaction as 'Citizens for Rowling" – that is anti-elitist resentment.
The are wasting their time because they share the common conceit of intellectuals (left and right) and business people and others who pay lip-service to democracy but essentially despise it. They are sure that politicians and other decision-makers who are not following their advice must be stupid, ignorant or consciously evil and motivated by sinister forces. They believe that for those who are not evil, all that is needed is careful loud and repeated explanation until the decision-makers grasp the wisdom of their advisers. To them the rest is obvious.
They rarely think it is worth debating with those who disagree with their diagnosis, or, to the extent they bother with them, their prescriptions. They are dismissive of cost benefit study, on the basis that their purposes are so pure it is improper to weigh them against grubby matters like cost. Whether or not they are of the left, they become Lenin's useful idiots for the left, because they supply the need of their media kin for events with which to bludgeon the rest of us 'people' who are suspicious of their balance and their clerical zeal.
Nevertheless I should have been more respectful because they are undoubtedly well meaning, and Sir Alan has acheived much. But I was irritated by the smugness of it all. What politicians desperately need, and look for is not another recital of the problems they face. They are invariably all too well aware of them. What they look for are solutions. Solutions that respect the clash of objectives, and the devastating conundrum of modern politics – that is decision-makers being ejected from power for looking not nice if the chosen solution means something has to give, if it means that some desirable cause or outcome must be sacrificed to acheive another.
Because often stupid swing voters decide the course of democratic leadership, and they pay little attention to unavoidable trade-offs. All across the western world we see government paralysed in the face of that dynamic.
To be sure, Sir Alan's crew will add in their tuppence worth to the balance, but far more useful than berating politicians from their numpty thrones, would be practical demands of fellow citizens to reduce the influence of those who want only nice outcomes and no costs falling anywhere.
An acquaintance with a high position in academia was reassuring. He confirmed I was right on the academics involved.
And he noted "an
And he noted "an“important and influential” citizen to sign up against climate change is Wayne Smith…. Rugby coach…. Who happens to have flown recently ( with a team of 30 odd) all the way to South Africa for two games of footy. His team may repeat this flight later on in the season ( semi final) and also several trips back and forth across the Tasman. Doesn’t he see the irony…… ???"
My friend went on to say
"if these people were doing something constructive about climate change I would not object. In science we have a similar situation… many people are being well funded to just continually show how bad the situation is ( and its bad) , but the people who really are trying to engineer solutions are quietly chugging away out of the limelight. For example there are a devoted group of physicists and chemists ( At Vic, Cambridge, and elsewhere) who are trying to develop cheap solar cells made from organic polymers that can be painted on roofs, car bodies etc . This , to me , is the most promising way forward… If successful, it could reduce carbon emissions everywhere, especially in the developing world."