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Mass Death Dies Hard
Tuesday 13th June 2017

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. In Britain, the Telegraph sensibly gives a column to the diligently sceptical Christopher Booker, and Matt Ridley has recently been able to get a few rational articles into the Times, but a more usual arrangement is exemplified by my own newspaper, the Guardian, which entrusts all aspects of the subject to George Monbiot, who once informed his green readership that there was only one reason I could presume to disagree with him, and them: I was an old man, soon to be dead, and thus with no concern for the future of "the planet". I would have damned his impertinence, but it would have been like getting annoyed with a wheelbarrow full of freshly cut grass.

These byline names are stars committed to their opinion, but what's missing from the posh press is the non-star name committed to the job of building a fact-file and extracting a reasoned article from it. Further down the market, when the Daily Mail put its no-frills news-hound David Rose on the case after Climategate, his admirable competence immediately got him labelled as a "climate change denier": one of the first people to be awarded that badge of honour. The other tactic used to discredit him was the standard one of calling his paper a disreputable publication. It might be — having been a victim of its prurience myself, I have no inclination to revere it — but it hasn't forgotten what objective reporting is supposed to be. Most of the British papers have, and the reason is no mystery.

They can't afford to remember. The print media are on their 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 their resident climate nag was allowed to write half the paper. In its last year, when the doomwatch journalists were threatened by the climate industry with a newly revised consensus opinion that a mere two-degree increase in world temperature might be not only acceptable but likely, the Independent's chap retaliated by writing stories about how the real likelihood was an increase of five degrees, and in a kind of frenzied crescendo he wrote a whole front page saying that the global temperature was "on track" for an increase of six degrees. Not long after, the Indy's print edition closed down.

At the New York Times, Andrew Revkin, star colour-piece writer on the climate beat, makes the whole subject no less predictable than his prose style: a cruel restriction. In Australia, the Fairfax papers, which by now have almost as few writers as readers, reprint Revkin's summaries as if they were the voice of authority, and will probably go on doing so until the waters close overhead. On the ABC, the house science pundit Robin Williams famously predicted that the rising of the waters "could" amount to 100 metres in the next century. But not even he predicted that it could happen next week. At the Sydney Morning Herald, it could happen next week. The only remaining journalists could look out of the window, and see fish.

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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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