Jonathan Porritt’s Strange Slurs

I learn, once again, that telling brutal truths isn’t the best way of winning friends

By George Monbiot, published on 19th March 2010

The debate which began with my article about feed-in tariffs has taken a peculiarly vicious turn. Jonathan Porritt, whom I have admired both for his excellent work on environmental issues and for the reason with which he makes his case, has weighed in with an amazingly unpleasant post. Here’s my reply:

Dear Jonathan,

I find this a really odd response. My effort throughout this debate has been to establish the facts. I have referenced every factual statement, on

Like you I simply want greenhouse gas emissions to be cut, as swiftly and effectively as possible. My opposition to the feed-in tariffs is motivated by the fact that they are a dreadfully inefficient and wasteful means of achieving what we both want. You make no attempt to refute this. Instead you simply fling out a series of slurs, far worse than those of which you accuse me.

Let me give you an example. You say of my column on March 2nd:

“A lot of this seemed to be aimed, very personally, at Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman of Solarcentury.”

But the column doesn’t even mention him, or Solarcentury. His name didn’t come up until I responded to his article criticising what I wrote. Throughout this debate he and I have been polite to each other and have stuck to the facts. Where is the personal attack you mention, and where is there evidence of sentiments one tenth as vicious as the things you say here?

It seems to me that opinion on this subject divides between those who, understandably enough, desperately want to believe that the technology they love does the business, and those who are influenced by the uncomfortable facts. I’m surprised to find you in the first camp.

For all those willing to be swayed by the evidence, I urge you to read the whole debate, from March 2nd to the present day, and to check the sources if you doubt the facts. There’s some fascinating material in the threads as well. It’s a fair bit of reading, but the debate is illuminating and robust, though at times a bit frustrating.

So please Jonathan, a bit of fair-mindedness and objectivity from you.

With my best wishes, George

If you want to follow the debate, start here, then read the articles linked on the right.