Seven old white men call for an Apollo programme to save the planet

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If a group of people get together to discuss how to sort out the climate crisis we can be confident of one few thing: the discussion will be dominated by white men, preferably white men with grey hair.

This approach to saving humanity – by my calculation, at least 90% of humanity is not grey haired white men – is a curious one. But it’s always the one taken. Click, for example, on the author’s section of the recently published Ecomodernist Manifesto. There you will find 6 men leering at you, though fortunately it is not uniformly white faces.

This approach, of course, is not always taken. Sometimes the speakers at save the world conferences show a little diversity. But this kind of diversity often follows a rather questionable form, a “white man guilty, black or brown man steward of the earth” form. Here is a recent example of that. Yes, the Global South speaks with one voice, a voice that agrees with me, the aliented and guilty white man. This dubious attitude appears to be acceptable among some on the eco-left.

And now we have a group of seven top academics, all of them white men, calling for an Apollo style programme to solve climate change.

The goals they lay out, covered widely in the press this week, are largely difficult to disagree with.

Government R&D spending on energy is pitiful, and it is completely inexcusable that it has not been ramped up massively since we realized the extent of the climate change problem. There should be massive international research programmes to improve solar, wind and nuclear energy and to create viable energy storage technologies.

Instead western governments are enthralled to the questionable idea that the free market does these things better. Well, they don’t appear to be doing them at all, never mind better. Private sector energy R&D is as pitiful as that funded by governments. If the market is failing then governments must step in.

But calls for an Apollo style global programme will only be credible when made by people who come close to reflecting most of humanity.

These academics don’t even reflect the Britain of 1965, let alone 2015.

How difficult would it be to string together a more inclusive line up of academics? Consider the basic fact that the countries most willing to spend vast amounts of public money on energy research, e.g. China, are not run by old white men.

A Chinese academic, an Indian academic, and perhaps an academic lacking the Y chromosome. These seem to be the basic pre-requisites for a group of academics calling for a massive global programme to fight climate change.

Down with white men!


6 thoughts on “Seven old white men call for an Apollo programme to save the planet

    peter2108 said:
    June 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I am suspecthey are just preparing the ground for COP21 and demands for that annual $100 billion.


      Robert Wilson said:
      June 3, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      What are you talking about?


        peter2108 said:
        June 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm

        Part of the climate negotiations at the last big meeting – 2010 wasn’t it involved the developing world asking the development world for an annual $100 billion to help them fight climate change. I think the present proposal is just a negotiating alternative to this.


        Robert Wilson said:
        June 3, 2015 at 9:05 pm

        Mmm. Did you actually bother reading my post or their proposal before commenting?


    peter2108 said:
    June 4, 2015 at 9:22 am



      peter2108 said:
      June 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Perhaps I should add a bit more. You took the proposal at face value, concluded that it was unlikely to be successful because of its provenance but that we needed to spend a lot more on research. I replied that I did not believe the proposal was simply that $150 billion dollars should be spent – after all money is tight for government spending at the moment. Rather it was a negotiating ploy. At COP21 the EU asks for pledges to reduce CO2 emissions. China, for eaxmple, says that for this to be possible $100 billion a year must be supplied to help them reduce emissions. EU says can’t do that but we could have an international research effort. Whether this then just ends up in recrimmination or actually results in funding committments I don’t know. If Sir David and his group had propose abandoning the £50 billion (at present) cost of the HS2 and initiating in its place research on adcanced nuclear reactors or even CCS then I would listenb more carefully. But at present I don’t think there is much signal, it is just climate politics noise.


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