Western climate change alarmists won’t admit they are wrong

Western climate change alarmists won’t admit they are wrong, by Clive James. This is from the upcoming book, Climate Change: The Facts 2017 edited by Jennifer Marohasy, published next month by the Institute of Public Affairs.

Australian climate star Tim Flannery will probably not, of his own free will, shrink back to the position conferred by his original metier, as an expert on the extinction of the giant wombat. He is far more likely to go on being, and wishing to be, one of the mass media’s mobile oracles about climate. While that possibility continues, it will go on being danger­ous to stand between him and a television camera. If the giant wombat could have moved at that speed, it would still be with us.

The mere fact that few of Flannery’s predictions have ever come true need not be enough to discredit him, just as American professor Paul Ehrlich has been left untouched since he predicted that the world would soon run out of copper. In those days, when our current phase of the long discussion about man’s attack on nature was just beginning, he predicted mass death by extreme cold. Lately he predicts mass death by extreme heat. But he has always predicted mass death by extreme something.

The Great Barrier Reef … on death’s doorstep since 1971 for any number of reasons:

Actually, a more illustrative starting point for the theme of the permanently imminent climatic apocalypse might be taken as August 3, 1971, when The Sydney Morning Herald announced that the Great Barrier Reef would be dead in six months.

After six months the reef had not died, but it has been going to die almost as soon as that ever since, making it a strangely durable emblem for all those who have wedded themselves to the notion of climate catastrophe. …

Politicians?

When the politicians join in the writing, the dramatic language declines to the infantile. There are only 50 days (former British PM Gordon Brown) or 100 months (Prince Charles wearing his political hat) left for mankind to “do something” about “the greatest moral challenge … of our generation” (Kevin Rudd, before he arrived at the Copenhagen climate shindig in 2009).

When he left Copenhagen, Rudd scarcely mentioned the greatest moral challenge again. Perhaps he had deduced, from the confusion prevailing throughout the conference, that the chances of the world ever uniting its efforts to “do something” were very small. …

On Saturday Night Live back there in 2007, Will Ferrell, brilliantly pretending to be George W. Bush, was allowed to get every word of the global warming message wrong but he wasn’t allowed to disbelieve it. Just as all branches of the modern media love a picture of something that might be part of the Overwhelming Evidence for climate change even if it is really a picture of something else, they all love a clock ticking down to zero, and if the clock never quite gets there then the motif can be exploited forever.

Jonathon Swift was there before us:

In “Gulliver’s Travels” [Swift] populated his flying island of Laputa with scientists busily using rubber numbers to predict dire events. He called these scientists “projectors”. At the basis of all the predictions of the projectors was the prediction that the Earth was in danger from a Great Comet whose tail was “ten hundred thousand and fourteen” miles long. …

That being said, however, we can note that Swift has got the language of artificial crisis exactly right, to the point that we might have trouble deciding whether he invented it or merely copied it from scientific voices surrounding him. James Hansen is a Swiftian figure. Blithely equating trains full of coal to trains full of people on their way to Auschwitz, the Columbia University climatologist is utterly unaware that he has not only turned the stomachs of the informed audience he was out to impress, he has lost their attention.

Paleoclimatologist Chris Turney, from the University of NSW, who led a ship full of climate change enthusiasts into the Antarctic to see how the ice was doing under the influence of climate change and found it was doing well enough to trap the ship, could have been invented by Swift. (Turney’s subsequent Guardian article, in which he explained how this embarrassment was due only to a quirk of the weather and had nothing to do with a possible mistake about the climate, was a Swiftian lampoon in all respects.) …

Finally, and supremely, Flannery could have been invented by Swift after 10 cups of coffee too many with Stella. He wanted to keep her laughing. Swift projected the projectors who now surround us.

They came out of the grant-hungry fringe of semi-science to infect the heart of the mass media, where a whole generation of commentators taught each other to speak and write a hyperbolic doom-language (“unprecedent­ed”, “irreversible”, et cetera), which you might have thought was sure to doom them in their turn. …

Newspapers? Hah!

As for the print media, it’s no mystery why the upmarket newspapers do an even more thorough job than the downmarket newspapers of suppressing any dissenting opinion on the climate. …

Most of the British papers have [forgotten what objective reporting is supposed to be], and the reason is no mystery.

They can’t afford to remember. The print media, with notable exceptions, is on its way down the drain. With almost no personnel left to do the writing, the urge at editorial level is to give all the science stuff to one bloke. The print edition of The Independent bored its way out of business when its resident climate nag was allowed to write half the paper. …

Bending its efforts to sensationalise the news on a scale previously unknown even in its scrappy history, the mass media has helped to consolidate a pernicious myth. But it could not have done this so thoroughly without the accident that it is the main source of information and opinion for people in the academic world and in the scientific institutions. Few of those people have been reading the sceptical blogs: they have no time. If I myself had not been so ill during the relevant time span, I might not have been reading it either, and might have remained confined within the misinformation system where any assertion of forthcoming disaster counts as evidence. …

Universities?

The effect of this mountainous accumulation of sanctified alarmism on the academic world is another subject. Some of the universities deserve to be closed down …

As for the learned societies and professional institutions, it was never a puzzle that so many of them became instruments of obfuscation instead of enlightenment. Totalitarianism takes over a state at the moment when the ruling party is taken over by its secretariat; the tipping point is when Stalin, with his lists of names, offers to stay late after the meeting and take care of business. …

“Scientists”?

As recently as 2015, after a full 10 years of nightly proof that this particular scientific dispute was a media event before it was anything, [the world’s foremost physicist] Freeman Dyson was persuaded to go on television. He was up there just long enough to say that the small proportion of carbon dioxide that was man-made could only add to the world’s supply of plant food. The world’s mass media outlets ignored the footage, mainly because they didn’t know who he was. …

Dyson served science. Except for the few holdouts who go on fighting to defend the objective ­nature of truth, most of the climate scientists who get famous are serving themselves.

There was a time when the journalists could have pointed out the difference, but now they have no idea. Instead, they are so celebrity-conscious that they would supply Flannery with a new clown suit if he wore out the one he is wearing now.

Carpet-baggers?

On behalf of the UN, Maurice Strong, the first man to raise big money for climate justice, found slightly under a million dollars of it sticking to his fingers, and hid out in China for the rest of his life — a clear sign of his guilty knowledge that he had pinched it.

Way back in 2011, one of the Climategate scientists, Britain’s Tommy Wils, with an engagingly honest caution rare among prophets, speculated in an email about what people outside their network might do to them if climate change turned out to be a bunch of natural variations: “Kill us, probably.” But there has been too much talk of mass death already, and anyway most of the alarmists are the kind of people for whom it is a sufficiently fatal punishment simply to be ignored.

hat-tip Stephen Neil