At first it was seen mainly as a North American contagion. Then it took hold in Australia and now it has spread to Britain.
The Anglo-Saxon tradition of enlightenment has collapsed. We have, as The Guardian's George Monbiot, describes it, yielded to a "flat-Earth love in."
A "flat Earth love-in". That's how one MP described the debate he witnessed in parliament last week.
The politics with which citizens of the United States, Canada and
Australia are now wearily familiar, in which elected representatives
denounce both scientific evidence and the researchers who produce it,
have arrived in Britain.
A couple of years ago I decided to stop
arguing with climate change deniers. It was driving me mad. Spend too
much time grappling with the convolutions of people like Nigel Lawson, Christopher Monckton, Mail and Telegraph columnists David Rose and Christopher Booker, and some of it rubs off on you. I began to feel like the man in the celebrated cartoon: "I can't come to bed yet, dear. Someone is wrong on the internet."
But this, in Westminster, is something new: a group of parliamentarians, some of them, like John Redwood, Peter Lilley, Andrew Tyrie and Graham Stringer, senior and experienced, prepared to abandon all caution and declare an all-out war on the evidence. Listening to the debate on Tuesday,
I had the sense that they were undergoing an initiation test, like Mara
gang members acquiring a facial tattoo. To show you are a true
believer, you must disfigure your political record by reciting a ream of
nonsense in parliament. So, with a heavy heart, I find myself going in
...Never underestimate the willingness of powerful people to ignore the
evidence they find inconvenient. Never underestimate their willingness
to appease industrial lobbyists by repeating the nonsense they generate.
Never underestimate their readiness to sacrifice the common interests
of humankind for the sake of a belief they refuse to abandon.