Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



brendan o'neill
You’re not a climate change denier, but you believe the effects of climate change have been grossly exaggerated. Is that correct?
Yes, environmentalism has become the dominant ideology of our age. It is an ideology of limits, restraint and caution. Humans are having an impact on our climate, that’s pretty clear. But environmentalism has turned into an extremely illiberal moral crusade. Read the rest of this interview here.

October 31st, 2009.


  1. Colin Says:

    Should we aim for a cleaner enviroment and move away from our dependency on fossil fuels? Certainly. Can we do it without sensationalising and stirring misinformation about the issue and then act like headless chickens in an attempt to end it. Probably not. Welcome to Earth.

    The most immediate thing that has to be tackled though is the incredible knee jerk reaction we have had. Carbon Tax, the pressure on developing countries, carbon credits and Al Gore getting a Nobel Peace Prize (well Al Gore in general) being some of the more annoying aspects of this furore.

    This could go on all day. Basically the world isn’t going to end (for us humans)in 10 years, neither will it in a 1000. Let’s make changes but let’s not try to squeeze it all into a year or two or curtail development or blow away billions and billions in the process and annoy me.

  2. El Kid Says:

    @ Colin – I’m starting with the man in the mirror myself. I’m asking *him* to make that change.

  3. Conal Says:

    Eoin, whats this guy’s point? seems to be he’s a misanthrope with no real argument, this interview a list of what he does not agree with. A variety magazine editor (and apparent expert in nuclear and geo-engineering technology proliferation (doesn’t that mean digging holes?)) is an outspoken climate change sceptic, fine, if you want to interview a self satisfied crank you have my number dude, make me famous.

    Palin put it best:

  4. Eoin Says:

    I don’t know if the public are ready for you Conal…

  5. Conal Says:

    You’re the Simon Cowell to my those irish twin fellas

  6. Eoin Says:

    No, I’m “person who doesn’t watch that show” to your “person who does watch that show”…

  7. Conal Says:

    jeez, easy churchill

  8. Eoin Says:

    Reader’s response:

    Dear Madam,

    We read, with incredulity, Eoin Butler’s interview with Brendan O’Neill in the Irish Times Magazine of 31st Oct ’09. The intelligent questions posed by Eoin Butler were perceptive; the answers were not. O’Neill seems unable to distinguish between climate scientists and environmental campaigners.

    He has not come to terms with either the complexity of the ‘environmental movements’ or the diversity of their policy programmes for dealing with the problems, as they see them.

    Some readers may have been confused by O’Neill’s obfuscation. After much peer-refereed research, the vast majority of environmental scientists agree that climate change is occurring and that human activities are among its causes. One human cause is the quantity of carbon released by human activities into the atmosphere.

    Like so much of scientific endeavour, climate science deals in statistical probabilities. Scientists tend to be conservative, not prone to excited exaggeration. There is broad agreement among this group of scientists that the average temperature of the earth will increase by 2 degrees Celsius sometime before mid-century. There is little we can do to prevent this increase. We have to prepare for its effects. If we do nothing to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, then average global temperatures are likely to rise further during the second half of the century. An average global temperature rise greater than 2 degrees could be devastating.

    While average global temperatures are set to rise over the next decades, there is less certainty about the regional distribution of those temperature increases. It is thought that temperatures in Africa and countries
    bordering the Mediterranean, for example, may experience temperature increases above the average. Ireland and Britain are likely to fair better
    than much of continental Europe. It has, therefore, been suggested that both Ireland and Britain could become the “life-boats” for Europe, serving as havens for those displaced by climate change.

    Climate change is only one of a raft of interconnected environmental issues that are cause for concern. “Peak Oil”, that is, the point where we have extracted as much oil from the earth as is left undisturbed, may have already passed. This is occurring as demand for oil from rapidly developing countries is increasing. This will have great repercussions for the global economy, including agricultural production, which is also dependent upon oil. Serious water shortages are set to affect large swathes of the World’s human population, while rising sea levels and localised pollution will not make life easier for humankind.

    This litany of horrors sounds like a prophecy of doom. Certainly, it is a challenge. A challenge of this magnitude can only be met when confronted in all its enormity. Humankind will need all its technological ingenuity, which may include nuclear energy. Solar, wind, wave power all have an important developmental role to play in providing energy for a growing urban,and hopefully, civilised population. Lifestyles too must change.

    Many small acts by individuals using low energy light bulbs, super insulated homes, water harvesting, vegetable plots can make a great difference; commendable efforts. In war-time Britain, such small contributions made a huge difference. Our diet, based upon sound sound scientific criteria was an exceptionally healthy one and fair to all. That particular wartime
    experience exemplifies the development of a fair, rational social policy, based on sound scientific evidence. Thanks to science, we no longer believe we live on a flat earth. As we design policies for dealing with climate change, governments would be wise to listen to the descendants of Galileo rather than to the twitter of an Exxon blog.

    Cliff Moughtin and Kate McMahon Moughtin


    Emeritus Cliff Moughtin was Professor of Planning at the University of Nottingham and at the Queen’s University, Belfast.

    Kate Mc Mahon Moughtin is a psychotherapist. Together with Dr Paula Signoretta, a human geographer who is senior research associate in the Centre for Research in SocialPolicy, Loughborough University, they have written, Urban Design: Health and the Therapeutic Environment, published in April 2009, by Architectural Press, an imprint of Elsevier.

  9. phil Says:

    Did it say the questions posed by Eion Butler were really stoopid… but you just changed it her to look cool??

  10. Eoin Says:

    @ Phil – bingo!

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