The Defections Mount

Mark Lynas

The defectors from the True Church of Green Religion (i.e., environmentalism) are starting to line up faster than defectors from Soviet Communism in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  A few weeks ago, the reliably green British journalist Mark Lynas issued a mea culpa about his longtime opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  As I’ve experienced first hand, European opposition to GMOs is nearly as sacred as opposing plastic bags here in the U.S.  (This is even true, to my great surprise, among many conservatives in Europe.)  Here’s Lynas, from his lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference on January 3:

I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

This week another icon of modern environmentalism defected from the party line: James Lovelock, the inventor of the famous “Gaia hypothesis” beloved of environmentalists and fruit-juice drinkers everywhere.  The proximate cause of his defection is his quite proper reaction against the wind power fanatics who are desecrating the English countryside.  But as you’ll see his critique goes beyond contesting the wind-breaking nuttery of the greens.  Here’s the relevant part of what Lovelock wrote a few days ago:

I am James Lovelock, scientist and author, known as the originator of Gaia theory, a view of the Earth that sees it as a self-regulating entity that keeps the surface environment always fit for life… I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.

Gaia rights, anyone?

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