Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Children’s Future
James Delingpole, London Biteback Publishing, 2012, pb., 312pp
EDWARD DUTTON reviews a fiery broadside against Greenery
The title Watermelons grabs the reader’s interest. They are green on the outside but red on the inside. This, argues Delingpole, characterizes the entire Man-made Global Warming (MMGW) movement ranging from hippie activists all the way up to the most senior climate scientists, including a one-time president of the Royal Society itself. All levels of the movement are heavily influenced by what Delingpole terms many times a kind of replacement (and anti-human) apocalyptic ‘religion.’ Arguing this is nothing new, but what is is Delingpole’s detailed dissection of this religion as part of a popular book.
Delingpole was the Telegraph journalist blogger who broke the 2009 Climategate Scandal. Leaked emails by senior climate scientists at the University of East Anglia demonstrated, argues Delingpole, that climate scientists were manipulating their data to achieve the desired panic-inducing results. He presents a persuasive case for accepting that these climate scientists are ideologically motivated and are essentially part of the Frankfurt School’s growing dominance of some areas of academia, an analysis that it is excellent to increasingly find in non-academic books. For these scientists, discovering the truth is less important than persuading the populace of a certain perspective in order to achieve a better – a socialist – society. MMGW permits them to do this by slowing down progress, rationing resources and achieving, therefore, a community that is more ‘equal.’ Delingpole relentlessly highlights the religious fervour of the MMGW advocates: the smears against opponents, attempts to manipulate the peer-review process, schemes to isolate academic journals that publish sceptical articles, and, amongst the academics’ useful idiots, an intense propaganda campaign and even physical violence.
Moving beyond his analysis of the Green movement, Delingpole also demonstrates the complete lack of compelling evidence for MMGW. Not only is there the alternative and more parsimonious explanation of natural fluctuations in Earth’s climate, as seen in the past, but the empirical data indicates that the Earth is getting cooler, the system of tree-ring data collection used to measure past temperatures is unreliable, much of the research drawn upon in official documents to prove global warming is not peer-reviewed and the official reports rewrite their conclusions under political pressure. Delingpole presents a sound case for accepting that MMGW is simply another replacement religion, drawing upon a sense of guilt, but the prized underclass is not foreigners but non-human life and the Earth itself. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look at the origins of this replacement religiosity in any philosophical depth.
Delingpole also refutes the various fallacious arguments used by climate scientists against their critics, among them being that they are funded by oil companies and cannot be taken seriously because they are not qualified climate scientists. He observes that not only are some climate scientists skeptical of MMGW but logic is all that is required to see the problems with it. In addition, he notes the zeal and unpleasantness of the MMGW lobby and contrasts it with the calm logic of their critics. This alone renders the ‘climate realist’ side more persuasive. The problem is that the reader of this book has only Delingpole’s word to go on and, sadly, Watermelons, on numerous occasions, is guilty of many of the fallacies which it accuses believers in MMGW of employing. Indeed, like the postmodern scientists, it is unashamedly guilty of them.
Those who disagree with Delingpole’s scepticism are accused of being ‘brainwashed,’ so, presumably, there isn’t even the possibility that they might be onto something. They are, again and again, compared to ‘Nazis’ and ‘Fascists,’ the same manipulative, emotional arguments he accuses environmentalists of using. At one point Delingpole tries to justify this method by claiming that his opponents use invective to ‘circumvent’ the arguments whereas he simply uses it to ‘enhance’ the argument; to show the ‘other side’ as the ‘pompous, slippery, lying, cheating, arrogant, corrupt, bullying, money-grabbing hypocrites they are.’ Moreover, nobody is going to read what he has to say unless it is written in a ‘colourful’ way. But this is precisely what postmodern scientists are arguing. They are convinced of their point so for people to listen to it, it must be spiced-up just as Delingpole spices up his prose. They engage in ad hominem attacks, but so does he. They avoid counter-arguments with invective but so, they might argue, does Delingpole. For example, he doesn’t even mention the phenomenon of global dimming, which is argued to explain some of the effects that he highlights while preserving the MMGW model.
Delingpole’s own fallacies betray his own biases and render him less credible as a source of information. He does not seem sufficiently self-aware to understand that he also reflects aspects of religious zeal. His religion is a combination of humanism – hence his complete dismissal of eugenics, something with which he associates environmentalists – and an unquestioning belief in the capacity of humans to do the right thing. This is why, he argues prophetically, we can ignore the MMGW argument of the ‘precautionary principle’ – even if it’s not absolutely proven, let’s play it safe. And we can let the human population grow exponentially. We’ll come up with some genius solution because we always have. However, Delingpole’s own analysis indicates just how corrupt and illogical even very senior scientists are. Civilizations do collapse and, on a smaller level, economies grow and contract and the bigger the boom the bigger the bust. Delingpole’s dismissal of ‘planned recession’ is, thus, not congruent either with his own analysis or an at least arguable understanding of human history. There is at least a case for planned recession, population reduction, and greater caution but Delingpole dismisses this out of hand.
In addition to its emotional nature, I’d also question some of the stylistic decisions in this book. The first chapter, for example, is clichéd – asking us to ‘imagine’ some alternative world. It continuously talks down to the reader: ‘You’ll have seen a version of the Hockey Stick…’; to understand that Delingpole’s right ‘All you need to do is look around the world. And be able to read.’ At one point, he seems to assume that his reader is so uneducated that he’s never heard of Occam’s Razor. Also, sometimes it seems too much a work of apology – justifying himself and even attempting to retrogressively put right television interviews in which he couldn’t think of the clever answer at the time; stressing his callowness in assuming that his climate scientist interviewer had pure motives. Also, I think his attempt to spice-up the prose goes so far as to make it laughable. He refers to himself farting, for example, or to how nineteen year olds feel about dating. This simply doesn’t help us to take his work seriously and, at points, he is at pains to stress the serious implications of his argument.
When I was fifteen, our GCSE Geography Project was ‘Global Warming: Fact or Fiction?’ This was in 1996, before the internet was popular, and Delingpole points out the crucial role of the web in permitting people to question official dogmas. I was unable to find any arguments against MMGW to put in my school project. It was just fact. Delingpole demonstrates that this is not so and his book is definitely worth reading. It is a clear and at times persuasive introduction to the ‘climate realist’ case. If only it was written more dispassionately, it would be a much better source for GCSE Geography students in 2014.
Dr. EDWARD DUTTON is an academic and author