Watermelons James Delingpole

Biteback Publishing, pp.265, 14.99

With each passing year it becomes clearer that the cure for global warming is worse than the disease. While wind power and biofuels devastate ecosystems and economies, temperatures and sea levels rise ever more slowly, just as the greenhouse theory— minus feedbacks — predicts. As James Delingpole acutely observes, the true believers are left with a version of Pascal’s wager embodying a ‘dismally feeble grasp of cost-benefit analysis’: that, however unlikely it is, the potential cost of global warming is so high that anything is justified.

Not only does this argument apply to the cure as well as the disease; it also applies to every small risk of something big happening. Indeed, Delingpole observes, one of his friends from university is now prime minister of a government that is spending £18 billion a year of your money to put giant death-ray lasers on every British hilltop in preparation for alien invasion. They are cunningly disguised as wind turbines.

As this Swiftian joke illustrates, nobody is better at ridiculing the pomposity and hypocrisy of the climate-change industry than Delingpole (declaration of interest: I have recently got to know him, and he has written nice things about one of my books). His angry, sardonic and often hilarious diatribes, lightly carrying a surprising amount of detailed fact, remind me of a radical 18th-century pamphleteer lambasting the Whig establishment.

In keeping with that tradition, sometimes he goes too far. Before 2009, I had more sympathy for his targets. But the leaked emails of ‘Climategate’ — a word that Delingpole popularised — and the official whitewashes of that episode leave no doubt about the tactics that have been used by the climate orthodoxy to bully doubters and suppress dissent, while raking in money from carbon indulgences. This church deserves a rude Luther.

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Unlike Martin Luther, Delingpole can be very funny. Listing the celebrities who have endorsed the creepy and misanthropic Club of Rome, where grand greens congregate in luxury, he imagines the

cosy, gang-joining peer group thing going on … and the Dalai Lama saying: ‘The ex-prime minister of Belgium? You’re kidding? I’ve spent my whole life dreaming of meeting the ex-prime minister of Belgium.’

To Delingpole’s surprise as well as the reader’s, this book is not really about climate change after all. As he digs deeper into the writings of the Club of Rome and their ambitious disciples (such as John Holdren, science adviser to Barack Obama, and Maurice Strong, first director of the UN Environmental Programme, godfather of both the Rio Conference of 1992 and the Kyoto treaty of 1997, and deviser of the Earth Charter to replace the Ten Commandments — who moved to China at the moment that he was implicated in the Iraqi ‘oil for food’ scandal), Delingpole finds he cannot avoid an uncomfortable conclusion:

Look, when I began researching this book, I thought it was going to be about Climategate and global warming — not some massive international plot to destroy Western Civilisation and replace it with some grisly New World Order based on rationed resources, enforced equality and the return of the barter system. Unfortunately, though, the weight of evidence was against me. So brazenly open are the leading ideologues of the green movement about their plans for New World Order, I’m not even sure the word ‘conspiracy’ properly applies.

The grand green faith has two commandments: that humanity is the problem not the solution; and that international central planning is the solution, not the problem.

Hear what comfortable words the Club of Rome and their ilk saith:

The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…Democracy is no panacea; ‘the earth has a cancer and the cancer is man’; ‘we are a disease, which is spreading exponentially’; ‘my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has added to the population problem’; ‘a glimmer of hope’ (about the prospect of billions of coming environmental deaths).

Hear also what the grand panjandra say: ‘A shift is necessary, which will require a vast strengthening of the multilateral system, including the United Nations’ (Maurice Strong), leading to an environmental new world order in which the United Nations is ‘authorised to impose sanctions and make use of other measures of compulsion’ (Mikhail Gorbachev); and a planetary regime to ‘control the development, administration and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or non-renewable’ (John Holdren). All this long before global warming came along.

Before producing the bestseller The Limits to Growth and attracting the Dalai Lama, Peter Gabriel, Bill Clinton and the ex-prime minister of Belgium, the Club of Rome was founded by an Olivetti executive and a Scottish chemist in the 1960s. Or maybe it started much earlier: the Roman priest Tertullian, writing in 210 AD, seems to have been a member:

Our teeming population is the strongest evidence that are numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us from its natural elements…pestilence and famine and wars have to be regarded as the remedy.

Delingpole’s book is called Watermelons, after the fruit that is green on the outside but red on the inside. He documents with great skill and not a lttle style one of the ‘long marches through the institutions’ that the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci proposed as the Left’s best strategy instead of Communism. Whether they have heard of Gramsci or not, there is little doubt that many of the kind of people who were Soviet apologists in the 1980s are now green schemers.

Unlike many greens, who love nothing better than to accuse impoverished freelance hacks like Delingpole of being in the lucrative pay of big oil (he wishes!), I am no fan of conspiracy theories. Carrying Watermelons about on aeroplanes, with its images of green tendrils twisted into hammers and sickles, I was mildly embarrassed by some of the looks I got. But Delingpole makes a strong case that this cunning hijacking of well-meaning concern for nature by ambitious ideologues is hidden in plain sight. Do not be deceived by his sometimes flippant and always highly readable prose. This is a serious and significant book.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated

Tags: Book review, Global Warming, Green, Non-fiction