James Lovelock is 88 and turning into an apocalyptic crank. In a recent interview with Decca Aitkenhead of The Guardian, he makes some rather extreme predictions supported by no evidence whatsoever:
His latest book, The Revenge of Gaia, predicts that by 2020 extreme weather will be the norm, causing global devastation; that by 2040 much of Europe will be Saharan; and parts of London will be underwater. […]
Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.
Nuclear power, he argues, can solve our energy problem – the bigger challenge will be food. “Maybe they’ll synthesise food. I don’t know. Synthesising food is not some mad visionary idea; you can buy it in Tesco’s, in the form of Quorn. It’s not that good, but people buy it. You can live on it.” But he fears we won’t invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects “about 80%” of the world’s population to be wiped out by 2100. Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, he says. “But this is the real thing.” […]
What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: “Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.”
I, of course, accept global warming, and recognize that rising sea levels will be a serious problem by the end of this century, but forgive me if I remain unconvinced by Lovelock’s predictions of global depopulation and the desertification of Europe. Are there others saying this, and if so why do they say it, and what are their scientific credentials? If they have credentials, are they respected among their peers? What are their colleagues saying of their views? Show me the evidence.
Some of my annoyance here is with the reporter, Decca Aitkenhead. Is this what one learns in journalism school, to be a cipher channeling uncritically the words of those with notoriety? To not ask for evidence and not report what experts might have to say in response to extreme claims?
In future, come on Decca. Show readers not just the claims, but the evidence.