Move over Thom Yorke – there's another candidate for Britain's most miserable and mean-spirited millionaire. This week, fantasy book author Philip Pullman will join Radiohead's ginger whinger in calling for wartime austerity measures and top-down social control.
Demanding strict state-controlled energy rationing, Pullman says in a new book:
"This is a crisis as big as war and you couldn't trade your ration book in the wartime. You were allowed three ounces of butter a week, or whatever, and that was it. And this is what it should be like with carbon. None of this carbon trading. We should have a fixed limit and if you use it all up in October, then tough, you shiver for the rest of the year."
Sounds fun. But then Pullman reveals why he's wearing a rose-tinted spyglass:
"My childhood was formed during the austerity years after the war. So I still feel influenced by that. Curious, isn't it, how we were much healthier as a nation after the war when the rationing was on?"
Ah, yes. Those glory days when tuberculosis and syphilis were rampant, penicillin was rare, very few males over the age of 30 still had their own teeth, and life expectancy was ten years shorter than it is today!
Preventing people from turning their own heaters on in cold weather would result in the needless deaths of the old and vulnerable. But that isn't grim enough for Pullman, who wishes a new menace upon us: killer carnivores.
"If the polar bears leapt from the pages of my fiction into reality and saw what was happening," reckons Pullman, "they'd eat us. Eat as many of us as quickly as they possibly could. And good luck to them."
Pullman's nasty brand of misanthropy is all in the name of saving us from "global warming", of course. His interview appears in a grim new book called Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth?, a collection of interviews with wealthy B-list and C-list celebs. It's a sort of 21st century "Duck and Cover", but instead of singing our way through a nuclear apocalypse, this show us ways of enduring self-inflicted carbon austerity. It's co-authored by policy wonk Andrew Simms, who has done much to encourage the idea that we're in a wartime situation, which (naturally) calls for wartime state controls and general all-round misery.
Pullman prides himself on his rationality, but there are a few facts that stand between him and a coherent argument.
Firstly, polar bears are really doing fine - proving their resilience as a species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, amongst 14 of the 20 polar bear populations worldwide it surveyed, ten populations are stable, two are increasing, and two are decreasing. One of the two diminishing populations, in Baffin Bay, is declining because the air is getting colder - not warmer. Polar bears do face threats from pollution (which the carbon cultists have shoved off the environmental agenda), but they seem to take warming in their loping stride.
Secondly, even NASA is reluctant to attribute a warmer Arctic to "Global Warming". It's a local, regional phenomenon, with the current favourite theory being changes in the circulation of ocean currents. A peer-reviewed study expectedly shortly explains the "dramatic" (15 per cent) ice loss this summer to the fact that the Arctic had around 15 per cent less cloud cover this summer. So much for that panic, then.
The prominence of polar bears in the news doesn't tell us much about global warming - but rather more about a news media that's given up trying to understand the world, and prefers to fantasise about it (and scare us) instead.
As David Whitehouse explained recently, the Earth's temperatures have been stable for the past decade:
"It's not a viewpoint or a sceptic's inaccuracy. It's an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased," he wrote.
Thirdly, there's Pullman's insistence that the idea of human-induced climate catastrophe is somehow the voice of radical dissent. But it's not, since anthropogenic global warming is the well-funded mainstream view today (as advocates never cease of reminding us). Pullman compares the climate scaremongers to Old Testament prophets... "and the struggle that the climate-change prophets have had to undertake to get their message heard".
Some struggle. The doomsday view has huge institutional backing - the UN and NASA, for example - and the top-down science budgets follow. Greenpeace alone has spent $2bn on lobbying in the past decade, yet still presents itself as a ragtag outsider outfit.
You're left wondering why this professional atheist has spent so much time constructing a religion for himself - it's quite medieval. And how weird that an author of epic fantasy novels has constructed his greatest fantasy to use in everyday life. ®
The Sunday Telegraph, which has an excerpt of "Shiver And Perish" here, bills Pullman's worldview as championing "a new brand of environmentalism that offers us all hope". Proof that even on posh newspapers, sometimes sub-editors don't read the stories.