Skip to Content

Letters

Postscript on racism

Dear Editors

Just a short postscript to my article in the February issue on racism. The Guardian for 4 April carried an article on Lawrence Dennis, a leading American fascist from the 1930s and 40s. Dennis's mother was black, so by the 'one drop' rule would have been regarded as black himself. But he had a relatively light skin and, having cut himself off from his family, was able to pass as white. A striking demonstration of the point that 'race' is a matter of social attitude and acceptance rather than a biological category.

PAUL BENNETT, Manchester.

Climate change?

Dear Editors

I have enjoyed by trial subscription to your journal Socialist Standard, the second edition of which I received yesterday. However, I am writing now to request that the subscription be discontinued.

The reason for this early curtailment is the article on page 4 of the April edition relating to climate change, and the Channel 4 programme on this subject broadcast last month. I cannot recall reading a review of any programme in any publication, that was quite so dismissive of the basic tenet of a particular documentary without a shred of evidence to back up your assertions. The best that is managed, is that you allege that the writer of the programme is associated with a left wing political grouping that the SPGB does not agree with.

To denigrate the wide range of academic and other experts quoted on the programme as "denial monkeys" falls well below the high journalistic standards I have observed in your journal. Not a single reference is made in your review to any factual errors in the programme; in fact, the quote truthfully in your introduction that "climate change" is a $4bn gravy train sums up the essential truth of the programme. You later refer to every "nutjob with a theory" as a further effort to dismiss as cranks the many genuine experts who, on the programme, proposed a lucid and essentially straightforward and honest debunking of climate change which, if indeed it is occurring at all, is of entirely natural origin.

I would have hoped that the original (though often misguided) concepts and ideas found throughout the Socialist Standard would have encouraged your reviewer to look at the objectively at this controversial topic.

Unfortunately, your reviewer seems to have fallen "hook, line and sinker" for what will, in the course of time, be revealed as a total hoax, a worthless and erroneous theory with which the world is being misled. In reading your "Declaration of Principles" on page 18 I note that you believe that "the capitalist or master class, and consequent enslavement of the working class..," is the foundation of modern society. So "climate change" is not the only myth in which members of the SPGB believe, but it is one of many listed in the "Declaration". Fortunately, by "tilting against windmills" evident in your "Declaration", and throughout the Socialist Standard, what will be the truly successful way forward from the crisis in Britain in 2007 has been overlooked.

WILLIAM REID, Stafford

Reply: If you are determined to believe that the large majority of the world’s climate scientists are involved in a conspiracy to distort science and cover up the truth then we can’t stop you, however the evidence suggests otherwise. The claims made in the programme are almost universally false, as five minutes perusing of any reputable online source will easily reveal (see for example George Monbiot’s article, Guardian, 13 March). There is not space in this magazine to rehearse all of the arguments again, however here are some main points.

  1. The claim that recent temperature variations on Earth are in strong agreement with the length of the cycle of sunspots has been shown repeatedly to be the result of incorrect calculations. In fact the opposite seems to be the case: the length of the sunspot cycle has declined, while temperatures have risen.

  2. The argument that volcanoes produce more CO2 than human activity is false.

  3. The fact that CO2 increases as a result of global warming is true, but is a known feedback mechanism and in no way supports the proposal that global warming is not attributable to CO2 emissions.

  4. The argument that cosmic rays are a significant cause of cloud cover is not supported by the evidence and has been rejected by the IPCC.

  5. The concomitant proposal that the sun is the principle cause of global warming is similarly unsupported.

  6. References to apparent fluctuations like the ‘Little Ice Age’ and the ‘Medieval Warming Period’ in the programme do not say that the data for these is regional, not global, and most probably only apply to Europe during those periods.

  7. The much-vaunted drop in temperature during the smokestack decades of the mid 20th century can be attributed to the known effects of global dimming by airborne particulates, and in no way undermines the case for human-attributable warming.

  8. The argument that CO2 cannot possibly have a big effect as it is present in very small amounts in the atmosphere is akin to arguing that a small amount of asbestos in the lungs must be harmless. CO2 is a highly efficient absorber of radiation in the part of the spectrum which matters most, the part which includes sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface.

Lastly, it seems strange that you are prepared to trust implicitly the word of the ‘genuine experts’ you saw on a Channel 4 entertainment show, but not the word of the vastly greater number of scientists whose opinions were not represented on that show and who were given no opportunity to present the alternative case. The credentials of the programme ‘experts’, most of whom are either retired, non-academics, non-climatologists, or in receipt of oil industry funds, or there to sell their next book or their weather-prediction business, or indeed there by mistake, can be read in their extraordinary completeness at http://www.climatedenial.org.

Bizarrely, you go even further than the show itself by questioning whether global warming is happening at all, something even the programme producer, with his long history of making junk-science anti-environment documentaries, didn’t dare to do.

As for your suggestion that our class-analysis of capitalism is a myth, we invite you to tell us which particular windmill you think we are tilting at. You don’t choose to reveal what the ‘truly successful way forward’ will be for workers in the future but we respectfully suggest that it won’t involve ignoring the evidence that is staring all of us in the face and embarking on a simian crusade against the downright obvious - Editors