On Monday, London Mayor Boris Johnson claimed in his article in the Daily Telegraph that climate change wasn’t happening because he could see snow out of his window.
Quite rightly, such a comment created an uproar amongst the rational minded people of his city. Climate scientists responded, pointing out that nowadays they had slightly more sophisticated techniques for predicting the weather than looking out of the window. Other wits on twitter suggested that perhaps, following his logic, if you can’t see Boris Johnson out of your window, then he doesn’t exist either.
Wishful thinking perhaps. But as annoying as his views are to those of us concerned about our environment, the (even more worrying) fact is that we aren’t really his audience here. Boris’s attempt to bury climate change in a snowdrift is really part of his ongoing campaign to win support for his future political ambitions. Because just like the deep-seated desire to roll back the state and an in-bred hatred of all things European, climate skepticism has become part of the membership package for the nasty party.
In the past few years, the Tories have been very effective in using the global economic crisis as cover to bring in the pernicious social policies they were always dreaming of, spreading their euroscepticism in the process. And, given how climate skepticism is becoming such a part of their DNA, they will try to do the same with the environment – just look at George Osbourne’s proclamations on reducing our carbon emissions at the 2011 Tory Party Conference. But we cannot let them. Because just as paying people to stay at home rather than go to work wastes money as well as wasting skills, denying the importance of our changing climate will not only missing the opportunity to build a more sustainable future, but also the chance to lead the world in this vital industries of tomorrow. Boris Johnson might think that if he can’t see it, it isn’t there, but we can’t just close our eyes and hope that climate change will go away.