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Mass Death Dies Hard
Tuesday 13th June 2017

When the climatologists upgraded their frame of certainty from global warming to climate change, the bet-hedging manoeuvre was so blatant that some of the sceptics started predicting in their turn: the alarmist cause must surely now collapse, like a house of cards. A tipping point had been reached. Unfortunately for the cause of rational critical enquiry, the campaign for immediate action against climate doom reaches a tipping point every few minutes, because the observations, if not the calculations, never cease exposing it as a fantasy. I myself, after I observed Andrew Neil on BBC TV wiping the floor with the then Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, thought that the British government's energy policy could not survive, and that the mad work which had begun with Ed Miliband's Climate Act of 2008 must now surely begin to come undone. Neil's well-informed list of questions had been a tipping point. But it changed nothing in the short term. It didn't even change the BBC, which continued uninterrupted with its determination that the alarmist view should not be questioned.

How did the upmarket mass media get themselves into such a condition of servility? One is reminded of that fine old historian George Grote, when he said that he had taken his A History of Greece only to the point where the Greeks themselves failed to realise they were slaves. The BBC's monotonous plugging of the climate theme in its science documentaries is too obvious to need remarking, but it's what the science programmes never say that really does the damage. Even the news programmes get "smoothed" to ensure that nothing interferes with the constant business of protecting the climate change theme's dogmatic status. To take a simple but telling example: when Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Vice Chancellor and man in charge of the Energiewende, talked rings around Greenpeace hecklers with nothing on their minds but renouncing coal, or told executives of the renewable energy companies that they could no longer take unlimited subsides for granted, these instructive moments could be seen on German television but were not excerpted and subtitled for British television even briefly, despite Gabriel's accomplishments as a natural TV star, and despite the fact that he himself was no sceptic.

Wrong message: easier to leave him out. And if the climate scientist Judith Curry appears before a US Senate committee and manages to defend her anti-alarmist position against concentrated harassment from a senator whose only qualification for the discussion is that he can impugn her integrity with a rhetorical contempt of which she is too polite to be capable? Leave it to Youtube. In this way the BBC has spent ten years unplugged from a vital part of the global intellectual discussion, with an increasing air of provincialism as the inevitable result. As the UK now begins the long process of exiting the European Union, we can reflect that the departing nation's most important broadcasting institution has been behaving, for several years, as if its true aim were to reproduce the thought control that prevailed in the Soviet Union.

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Lifeguardianreader
August 15th, 2017
9:08 PM
Excellent work Clive James. Now please challenge our Monbiot to a debate on this - a written one of course.

Peter Houlding
June 19th, 2017
7:06 AM
Nor will a science degree protect you from "illogic (sic), ideology and ignorance". Ad hominem attacks such as this by Ms Salzman - a person whose right to speak on environmental matters seems to be derived from her anti-nuclear fanaticism and a possible interest in birds - don't advance her cause. She demonstrates every attribute of the climate alarmist, unable to distinguish between faith and evidence, and translating "climate denial" into a vast right-wing conspiracy theory.

observer
June 19th, 2017
12:06 AM
Really, Lorna Salzman? Nothing in his piece makes sense? Did you actually read it or are you just one of those trolls who turn up whenever a journalist steps out of line and questions the (by now legendary) climate change/global warming consensus and scream "denier, denier, denier" in the hope of shutting down debate? So much of the media is on your side and treats the consensus as unquesionable so why the frenzied reaction? You are behaving exactly like the "time is running out" brigade that Clive James is writing about. It is also a bit odd that you claim to hate the left then blame capitalism for destroying the planet.

Peter Houlding
June 17th, 2017
10:06 PM
Salzman strikes another blow for boredom, with the same alarmist pitch, and the same absence of logic possessed by her alarmist teammates. For the record, politics and science should be mainly separate things, with policy being influenced by science rather than (as matters are now) pseudo-science influencing policy. It's very clear that Mr James is better-informed on the real science than is Salzman. The comment on "the once beautiful mind" is a vicious canard. And Salzman should take her - always mediocre - mind back to the American Birds Magazine.

robert quinn
June 16th, 2017
1:06 PM
What's your "contrary scenario?" Nuking all those coal-fired power generators in China and India?

Lorna Salzman
June 14th, 2017
12:06 AM
You don't have to have a science degree to recognize illogic, ideology and ignorance. Clive James puts these on full view. Nothing in his piece makes sense nor is it even factual: he suggests the climate movement is a leftist war, not knowing that the traditional left long scorned environmental issues, dismissing them as political and social constructions and failures rather than actual science- and material-based pollution and injury. Hating the left (as I personally do) does not mean going over to the dark side of climate denial. James has picked out his political alignment carefully and then signed on to all of the right wing's distortions, lies and dismissal of the in=our=face evidence that grows every day. James deplores pessimism and claims about the "death" of the planet by saying: well, it's OK this minute so what's the problem? Clive, the earth won't be dead until it's dead, like the fat lady singing. Your Climate Denial teammates are denying everything not because there is no evidence but because they see global capitalism fast going under. Capitalism based on ever-increasing consumption of resources and energy is not sustainable and the end is quite visible at the end of a shortening tunnel. The right wing and neo cons are desperate to continue Business as Usual, i.e. capitalism and growth. A contrary scenario or roadblock will be fought tooth and nail. But the countdown is approaching faster than their favored solutions and so all they can do is deny, deny, deny. More's the pity that your once beautiful mind is going to waste. You've bet on the wrong horse. Consider in your bowels that you may be wrong, as someone once said.

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