President Nicolas Sarkozy’s desire to appoint an outspoken climate-change sceptic to a new French super-ministry of industry and innovation has drawn strong protests from party colleagues and environmentalists.
Claude Allègre argues that global warming is not necessarily caused by human activity. Putting him in charge of scientific research would be tantamount to “giving the finger to scientists”, said Nicolas Hulot, France’s best-known environmental activist.
One critic said that associating Mr Allègre with the government’s ambitious environmental policy was like putting “organic farming alongside Chernobyl”.
Mr Sarkozy is said to value Mr Allègre’s experience, his plain speaking and his convictions on the need to free up the economy and shake up the public sector – particularly the university research establishment.
The president’s allies rode to Mr Allègre’s defence yesterday. Xavier Bertrand, the general secretary of the ruling UMP party, paid tribute to his qualities as a “reformer”, saying Mr Allègre had “an interesting profile in French political life”.
And why don’t they like him?
Mr Allègre hit back at his critics and their “lies and distortions” about his record and beliefs. The climate was certainly changing, he said, but not all the reasons for it were known. “As a scientist and citizen, I, unlike others, do not want environmentalism to accentuate the crisis or make the least well-off suffer more,” he said.
The article also mentions that France opened yesterday its first permanent military base in Abu Dhabi, its first one in the Gulf, which will be home to about 500 personnel. It’s called “Peace Camp.”
It’s not all good news, though. Sarko’s creating a bureaucracy to oversee the bureaucracy, a “super-ministry of industry and research.”
Does France (or anyone) need more bureaucrats?
Tim Blair has more.