James Lovelock, the world’s most distinguished environmentalist, has come out against Extinction Rebellion (XR).
They are a bunch of “silly buggers”, the 100-year-old told me this week.
Dr Lovelock — independent scientist; inventor of Gaia Theory; creator of the first device to measure the CFCs causing a hole in the ozone layer; environmental campaigner over many decades — told me that he has no sympathy with the Extinction Rebellion mob and their claims to be saving the planet.
“No I don’t [support Extinction Rebellion], I think the silly buggers are going far over the top. It’s all very well to mount a barrier, but make sure when you jump off you don’t crash on the other side!”
The eminent British scientist — who celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year and is still going strong — was laughing at the expense of the Extinction Rebellion activists at Canning Town station in the East End of London, who climbed onto tube train carriages only to be dragged off by angry commuters.
As a working-class man himself — and a former radical, anti-fascist firebrand during the Spanish Civil War — Lovelock was particularly unimpressed at the idea of middle-class green activists trying to stop workers travelling to their jobs by public transport.
As inventor of Gaia Theory — the hypothesis that the whole planet (the ‘biosphere’) can be understood as one, giant, self-regulating organism — Lovelock is arguably the world’s greatest living environmentalist. His theories have been hugely influential on the deep ecology movement. But as he has got older, he has grown less impressed with the environmental movement’s rejection of science and nature in favour of left-wing political activism.
Lovelock’s suspicions were confirmed by an Extinction Rebellion activist, Stuart Basden, who has written a piece admitting that XR isn’t about really about climate.
And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.
Though Lovelock himself is concerned about “global warming”, he doesn’t think that waging war on prosperity is the answer; nor is he a fan of renewable energy.
When we met at his idyllic old coastguard’s cottage, on the south coast of England, he told me that he thinks the best and most eco-friendly solution to the world’s environmental problems is the wholesale adoption of nuclear power.