We have been critical of Sir David Attenborough for trickery about walruses being chased off cliffs by climate-starved polar bears. But when he said he agreed with Extinction Rebellion’s message but not its tactics and they responded by bringing their ugly tactics right to his door, our sympathies were entirely with him. There is a frightening streak of intolerance among climate activists which we find especially odd given the often rude and condescending way they insist that they have won the argument. Why then must they persecute skeptical academics, smear doubters, stifle skeptics on social media (sometimes ineptly), engage in political witch-hunts, block roads, frighten distinguished elderly filmmakers and risk breaking pandemic rules to do it? And if it’s how they treat people who agree with them, what sort of intimidation can one expect for speaking out?
The problem is not confined to climate change, of course. Universities are increasingly hostile to free inquiry on many topics including gender. But it’s remarkable the way in which people who dispute prevailing dogma are themselves, for instance, dismissed as religious nuts who are bigots under the skin.
Why for instance must LinkedIn, of all outfits, begin suspending accounts for sharing factually accurate information inconvenient to the prevailing narrative? Why must media start using the scifi term “heat storm” for a heat wave?
It may be cold comfort in a world increasingly tribal, polemical and ill-mannered. But it turns out that the public doesn’t like this sort of poisonous aggression. The Extinction Rebellion message seems not to be resonating with the British public. And doubtless there are many reasons including economic concerns driven by the pandemic lockdown pushing other issues down in the worry queue. But that they would try to bully a distinguished elderly commentator who actually agrees with them almost certainly contributes to public aversion to this way of pushing an argument forward, even shoving it down people’s throats.