The expert and the gentleman amateur

The expert and the gentleman amateur

Can anything be gleaned from whom countries pick as their government ministers


Until recently there was an interesting comparison to be made between Chile and the so-called United Kingdom in their choice of environment ministers.

Let’s compare and contrast…

Chilean environment minister Maisa RojasIn 2022 Chile appointed Maisa Heloísa Juana Rojas Corradi, a physicist and climatologist to the post of Minister for the Environment. As you can tell by the letters after her name, Ms Rojas is not exactly lacking in academic success.having graduated in physics at the University of Chile before going on to gain a Ph.D. in atmospheric physics from Lincoln College, Oxford. After gaining her doctorate, Rojas then pursued a career in academia, initially as a postdoctoral fellow at International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University in 2001, after which she then returned to Universidad de Chile as a postdoctoral fellow, researcher, eventually becoming a professor of geophysics. During that time, Rojas became an international leading climate change scientist. She was the lead author of the Paleoclimate chapter for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth report (AR5), and was also a coordinating lead author for the IPCC report (AR6). She has served on various presidential councils and committees on climate change.

Amateur human being Zac GolsmithNow compare and contrast that record of achievement with the person who was until recently the UK’s Minister of State for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment, the improbably named Frank Zacharias Robin Goldsmith, Baron Goldsmith of Richmond Park. Zac is a scion of the corrupt (and corrupting. Ed.) British Establishment who was not just born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but a whole sterling cutlery service. As a rich boy, Goldsmith had the best education that money can buy (allegedly): 3 fee-paying preparatory schools, followed by Eton College (which ought to be put into special measures for the sake of the nation. Ed.), from which he was expelled after drugs were discovered in his room. Despite all that expensive tuition, Zac go no where near a degree, but did go on after Eton to gain four A Levels at the now defunct Cambridge Centre for Sixth-Form Studies.

From your ‘umble scribe’s researches, it would appear that Zac definitely fits the definition of a ‘gentleman amateur’ about which Dr Duncan Stone of the University of Huddersfield wrote in 2019.

With specific reference to the late 19th century, Dr Stone wrote:

Average wits notwithstanding, anyone emerging from Eton, Harrow, Winchester or Westminster at this time was afforded – as a ‘gentleman’ – an indisputable authority that allowed them to simply assume positions of leadership. Their authority remained mostly intact, even if the ‘blood’ so crucial to a gentleman’s nobility in the past had been severely diluted by the overwhelming expansion of the public school system and the middle-classes it helped to produce.

The idealised gentleman was brave, loyal, and chivalrous towards females, put public duty before his own interests, and took part in activities for love rather than financial gain. These values were applied to a wide range of activities during the nineteenth century. Science, politics and the arts were all defined by this hegemonic ideal of the ‘gentleman amateur’.

On 30 June Goldsmith resigned from his ministerial position, stating the government showed “apathy” towards environmental issues and that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s lack of interest had paralysed policymaking.

Who would you rather have looking after your environment, someone with impeccable connections and manners, or someone who knows their subject inside-out? Answers in the comments below, please. 😀

Author: Steve Woods

Generic carbon-based humanoid life form.