David Davis: right on torture, wrong on climate change

Have you read his denialist nonsense in the Independent?

I'm a big fan of David Davis on civil liberties and human rights issues, especially his bold stance in opposition to torture and our alleged complicity in barbaric practices.

But on climate change, he is hopelessly wrong. His cornucopia of distortions, exaggerations, smears and half-truths in the Independent today makes for a depressing read.

I don't have time to fisk every line -- and, believe me, every line is worth fisking! -- but I will take issue with two of his points:

1)

The row about whether global warming exists gets even more virulent. The case is not helped by the fact that the planet appears to have been cooling, not warming, in the last decade.

Really? Who to believe? Davis, with his "BSc Joint Hons molecular science/computer science" degree, or the globally renowned, peer-reviewed climate scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre? From a press release in December 2008:

The ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1997. Global temperatures for 2000-2008 now stand almost 0.2°C warmer than the average for the decade 1990-1999.

Dr Peter Stott of the Met Office says our actions are making the difference: "Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years. Comparing observations with the expected response to man-made and natural drivers of climate change it is shown that global temperature is now over 0.7°C warmer than if humans were not altering the climate."

2)

Last week, the row was fuelled after a hacker revealed emails between the world's leading climate scientists that seemed to show them conspiring to rig the figures to support their theories. So it is unsurprising that more than half the public no longer believe in global warming.

Davis gets his timeline wrong. Polls showing public scepticism on the climate change issue preceded and predated the so-called Climategate row and the release of the University of East Anglia emails. The reason "more than half the public" no longer believe in global warming is because right-wing free marketeers like Davis, lacking in scientific credentials, have distorted the arguments and undermined the evidence.

The really scary point is this: had David Davis beaten David Cameron in 2005 and become Tory leader, Britain would now be on the verge of electing the only climate-change-denying leader in the G7. One for Dominic Sandbrook's What If . . . columns, eh?

By the way, before all the deniers and "sceptics" crawl out from under their cold, non-warming rocks to object to the evidence cited in this post and scream "cover-up", let me point you in the direction of a story in the Telegraph showing how climate-change sceptics get things wrong, too.

 

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

A second referendum? Photo: Getty
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Will there be a second EU referendum? Petition passes 1.75 million signatures

Updated: An official petition for a second EU referendum has passed 1.75m signatures - but does it have any chance of happening?

A petition calling for another EU referendum has passed 1.75 million signatures

"We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum," the petition reads. Overall, the turnout in the EU referendum on 23 June was 73 per cent, and 51.8 per cent of voters went for Leave.

The petition has been so popular it briefly crashed the government website, and is now the biggest petition in the site's history.

After 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond to an official petition. After 100,000 signatures, it must be considered for a debate in parliament. 

Nigel Farage has previously said he would have asked for a second referendum based on a 52-48 result in favour of Remain.

However, what the petition is asking for would be, in effect, for Britain to stay as a member of the EU. Turnout of 75 per cent is far higher than recent general elections, and a margin of victory of 20 points is also ambitious. In the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, the split was 55-45 in favour of remaining in the union. 

Unfortunately for those dismayed by the referendum result, even if the petition is debated in parliament, there will be no vote and it will have no legal weight. 

Another petition has been set up for London to declare independence, which has attracted 130,000 signatures.