Mark Lynas: „Anti-science and post-truth: climate change, GMOs and nuclear power“

Today I heard a very interesting talk (Skeptics in the Pub Vienna) in which Mark Lynas explained how he turned from a radical GMO-opponent into a GMO supporter.


Science has become a political football in the age of so-called post-truth. While conservatives, especially in the US, deny the scientific reality of climate change, left-wingers and greens are equally likely to deny the science on genetically modified foods and nuclear power. How can we try to have a more evidence-based debate about these issues?


Short intermezzo, before we get back to the topic:

Populism. Also characterized as an anti-elite attitude, populism is a political movement mobilizing a segment of so-called „regular“ people to take the control of the government out of the hands of so-called „out-of-touch“ elites.


He had some interesting points (slightly amended here):

  • Climate change is true. All scientific evidence points this way, even though the right-populists don’t want to believe it. We all agree on that, so no more comment, let’s look at the more interesting ones:
  • Genetically Modified Organisms are safe. All scientific evidence points this way, even though the Environmental Organizations don’t want to believe it. For example Golden Rice could improve the lifes of millions of poor people, if Greenpeace wasn’t lobbying against its distribution.

    „Potrykus (one of the license owners) has enabled golden rice to be distributed free to subsistence farmers. Free licenses for developing countries were granted quickly due to the positive publicity that golden rice received. Monsanto Company was one of the companies to grant free licences. Farmers are permitted to keep and replant seed.“

    „2016 over 100 Nobel laureates have called on Greenpeace to stop the campaign against Golden Rice. They argue with UNICEF numbers showing that 2 Million deaths annually are due to Vitamin-A deficiency.“

  • Nuclear power is one of the safest forms of electricity generation. All scientific evidence points this way, even though the Greens don’t want to believe it.

    The anti-nuclear energy movement is responsible for 10%-20% of the climate change, because they caused the necessity to burn more coal. Yes, Germany should keep the nuclear power plants running for 10 years more and instead switch off the lignite use (brown coal) immediately.

    And we cannot achieve this rate with renewables quickly enough: one nuclear power plants produces the power of 1000 windmills — and more windmill constructors come to death falling from windmills than people die due to nuclear accidents.

    Other interesting remark: coal power plants release more radioactive material into the environment than nuclear power plants, because of the trace isotopes in the coal that escape into the atmosphere.

More reading about GMOs (sorry for the German text, but the German wikipedia has more info on this topic and I lack the time to translate it all):
The Cartagena Protocol
„Kritisiert wurde, dass bei der ersten Verhandlungsrunde keine Vertreter der seriösen Wissenschaft anwesend waren, aber über 100 Vertreter von Nichtregierungsorganisationen, die eine wissenschafts- und technologiefeindliche Agenda vertreten würden. (..) Insbesondere spricht sie sich für eine Revision des Cartagena-Protokolls aus, das europäisch geprägte Regulierung in Entwicklungsländer exportiere.“

And some more references:

Mark Lynas on Wikipedia (check out his books also!)

Steven Pinker on Wikipedia (you don’t believe in science and you also think that everything is getting worse and worse with time? Look at his book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress which as usual you can also get from a local bookshop, if it still exists)

PS: And of course, the case is again: We have to form opinions based on true information. Not on anti-elitist fake news & post-truth.


Where in London do you find the most environmentalists? Heathrow airport, sometimes Gatwick.