The Economist is far from being the only newspaper to consistently print misleading things about climate change. Canada’s Globe and Mail sometimes gives them a run for their money, particularly with columns by Rex Murphy and Margaret Wente.
I return to London this week after four years as British High Commissioner. It has been a privilege to serve in this great country.
My one sadness is that, over that period, Canada has still not got to grips with the climate issue. Margaret Wente’s wearily predictable commentary on the outcome of Cancun (Great News from Cancun! – Dec. 14) reminds me of why progress has been so difficult. She is at once illogical (because the goal is “a very long way off,” it is hubristic to begin the journey), unfunnily sarcastic (“King Canute, come on down”) and content to jeer from the sidelines. If, as she predicts, the world will some day be powered by clean energy, that will not come about by accident but because people choose to make it happen.
If Ms. Wente’s goal is to provoke debate, she can feel well pleased with herself. But her satisfaction comes at a heavy price for her country and the world. Each year that we delay the long transition to low carbon, we force up the economic and human cost of it.
It is much appreciated when respected people lend their eloquence and authority to the cause of combatting climate change. It is an issue where weak thinking often prevails in both the media and public debate, and where every convincing corrective has value for all those who will deal with the consequences of our rapidly changing climate.
Unfortunately, it seems most likely that Wente will take the letter as evidence that her thoughts are sufficiently profound to attract the interest of people in high places. In fact, her analysis is so cringe-worthy that I always have to brace myself a little before plunging into her latest column.