Imagine if UK Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson had been approached by lobbyists employed by the asbestos industry telling him that the science linking asbestos inhalation and the particularly nasty kind of lung cancer called mesothelioma was in doubt. And that all the scientists and scientific institutions who were currently claiming that there was such a link were conspiring to deceive the public so as to justify ideologically-based restrictions on personal freedom which would result in increased taxation…
In that case, how certain would Owen Paterson have to be that this view of the situation was right before he began to inhale asbestos dust himself?
And how certain would Owen Paterson have to be that all the scientists were wrong before he began to use his position as UK Secretary of State for the Environment to undermine moves to control the release of asbestos into the environment so that children began to inhale it too?
And, last but not least, how confident of this position would Owen Paterson have to be before announcing to a fringe meeting of the Conservative party conference that asbestos exposure “can have a positive side” and that “People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that [asbestos exposure has been going on] for centuries”?
Now, to return to the real world: How likely does Owen Paterson think it is that fossil-fuel lobbyists are wrong when they deny the validity of the scientific evidence concerning the threat posed by man-made global warming?
Nobody fit to hold a position of responsibility can ever take the view that there is no chance at all of their being wrong about a controversial issue, that is a truism. So has Owen Paterson contemplated the seriousness of the consequences if he is wrong about the issue of man-made global warming – in fact the possibility that he has been deceived by the lobbyists – however small he may think that possibility may be? If not, could we all encourage him, please, to contemplate the seriousness of those consequences now.