In the last few weeks, Britain's few remaining climate change deniers have attempted a last throw of the dice in an effort to derail the Copenhagen climate summit. It is likely to be only a few years before such denial becomes impossible for all but the most fanatical extremists.
The row was triggered by some leaked emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA). These emails could be taken to imply that certain climate scientists were trying to exclude from publication the views of individuals with whom they disagreed. This may be an attitude adopted by more academics than some would like to admit.
However, if we believe certain contributers to the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, then we would regard the emails as evidence of a “climate change fraud”, revealing that the idea of human-made climate change is untrue. Norwich is a somewhat improbable centre for a global conspiracy, but if these deniers are right, then a few academics at UEA seem to have fooled the vast majority of the world's scientists.
In reality, the evidence for human-made climate change is as strong today as it was before the emails were released. No scientists have changed their minds because of the leak. Nonetheless, the row has encouraged the climate change deniers to muster for a final forlorn challenge to reality. They include far-right columnists and various Tory MPs, along with the UK Independence Party and the British National Party, whose leader Nick Griffin recently described climate change as a “left-wing conspiracy”.
Several of the deniers have absurdly suggested that climate change theory is an excuse to raise taxes . In reality of course, the people who have most to lose from a tough agreement at Copenhagen are the wealthy individuals and companies benefiting from trades such as oil.
All of this would be laughable were it not that the denial lobby includes columnists read by millions and politicians who may well be sitting on the government benches in May. At least we can be fairly sure that the reality of climate change will be impossible to deny within a few years, even if the likes of Nigel Lawson continue to insist that it is an entirely natural phenomenon, as the flood waters begin to lap around his feet in the House of Lords.