Thursday, January 22, 2009

Maggie Thatcher: Environmental Hero. Yes "that" one and yes I am serious.

Ok I admit it, I usually lean to the left on most political issues and tend to regard the right of politics with slightly more distrust than what is laughingly referred to as the "left" (personally I'm of the opinion that the last proper socialist Prime Minister we had in this country was Malcolm Fraser - and I know a few thinking lefties that agree with me). But having said that I do have a policy of giving credit where credit is due and despite having some major difference with her economic and social policies I do have to admit that following her conversion former British Pime Minister Maggie Thatcher was a very good environmental advocate. In fact if you really want to upset a climate skeptic, tell them it was Maggie and not Al Gore who was pushing all this.

Margaret Thatcher was probably one of the first prominant politicians in recent times to start talking about environmental issues. Despite being slow to initially come around to seeing the problems of chlorflourocarbons on the ozone layer....

".........when British scientists were able in 1988 to bring the ozone issue personally before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had an academic degree in chemistry, the U.K. position changed almost overnight and the British thereafter became a leading proponent of phaseout for all ozone-depleting substances."

The change was so rapid that in a September 1988 speech to the Royal Society she was warning of the dangers of global warming, ozone depletion and acid deposition, the latter two are no longer contentious. Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford University which gave her the knowledge to analyse the information put to her and realise the issues were real and helped her understand the real issues. Even now that influence continues in the British Conservative Party with the Tories quite rightly pressing the Labor Party for not doing enough, totally the opposite situation to here in Australia.

It is a sad fact of life that scientists are rarely drawn to go into politics with parliament tending to being filled with lawyers, accountants, bankers and union officials (on both sides of the house).

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