Journal question: 'Will nuclear energy be part of the future, despite the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan?'
Lovelock: 'The business with Fukushima is a joke. Well, it’s not a joke, it is very serious — how could we have been misled by anything like that? Twenty-six thousand people were killed by the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami [that caused the nuclear meltdown], and how many are known to have been killed by the nuclear accident? None.
[On the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Lovelock writes in A Rough Ride to the Future: “The most amazing lies were told, still are told and widely believed… Despite at least three investigations by reputable physicians, there has been no measurable increase in deaths across Eastern Europe.”] A lot of investment in green technology has been a giant scam, if well intentioned.'
Nature question: 'Is climate change going to be less extreme than you previously thought?'
Lovelock: The Revenge of Gaia was over the top, but we were all so taken in by the perfect correlation between temperature and CO2 in the ice-core analyses [from the ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, studied since the 1980s]. You could draw a straight line relating temperature and CO2, and it was such a temptation for everyone to say, “Well, with CO2 rising we can say in such and such a year it will be this hot.” It was a mistake we all made.
We shouldn’t have forgotten that the system has a lot of inertia and we’re not going to shift it very quickly. The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly But being an independent scientist, it is much easier to say you made a mistake than if you are a government department or an employee or anything like that.
Nature: 'So what will the next 100 years look like?'
Lovelock: 'That’s impossible to answer. All I can say is that it will be nowhere as near as bad as the worst-case scenario.'
A Book Review by Matt Ridley of 'A Rough Ride to the Future' by James Lovelock
Lovelock: 'We Need To Stay Sceptical About The Projections Of Climate Models' - He now thinks he “tended to exaggerate the immediacy of global warming”, that “we may muddle through into a strange but still viable new world”, and that we can “keep our cool as the Earth gently warms, and even enjoy it when we can.” He thinks it is a mistake to take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “projections almost as if written in stone”; instead we “need to stay sceptical about the projections of climate models”.
Lovelock regrets that huge sums have been 'squandered on the renewable energy sources”, many of which are “ugly and hopelessly impractical” and threaten a “green satanic change” to Britain’s landscape. Yup. He thinks that Greenpeace is “a great and powerful negative feedback on all that enlightened technological progress stands for."
Lovelock, on BBC TV, slams the global warming claims including those of of the United Nations climate panel. 'They just guess. And a whole group of them meet together and encourage each other’s guesses.'
Lovelock: 'I am an environmentalist & 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 & misapplied. We never intended...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'