February 14, 2011
Michael Buerk made a remark on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze last week which has excited a lot of comment. (H/T Stephen Haxby)
“Not long ago, to question multiculturalism…risked being branded racist and pushed into the loathesome corner with paedophiles and climate change deniers….”
Like Bishop Hill and Archbishop Cranmer, I don’t think he was being serious.
As the Archbishop has noticed, Michael Buerk is far more likely to have been having another dig at the BBC’s culture of political correctness.
But whether he did or didn’t mean it here’s the important thing: he knew, as he said it, that with a significant chunk of his audience it would strike a chord. Yep, there really are a lot of BBC listeners who would not bat an eyelid at the idea of lumping climate change “deniers” in the same category of round, unvarnished evil as kiddie fiddlers. (After all, we’ve already been bracketed with people who argue that Hitler never murdered six million Jews, so why stop there?)
We saw this attitude in the 10:10 No Pressure campaign. We saw it again on another BBC Radio 4 programme this week – In Denial: Climate Change On The Couch – which refused to acknowledge even for a second that there might be some real basis for climate scepticism: it’s nothing more than perverse self-deception apparently. We saw it in that sinister bit in the Prince of Wales’s recent speech to the European Parliament where he made a thinly-veiled plea for climate sceptics to be tried in the future for heresy:
I wonder, will such people be held accountable at the end of the day for the absolute refusal to countenance a precautionary approach?
And I certainly got a nasty taste of it myself in the last few weeks from all the eco-zealots who Twitter-mobbed and hate-emailed me in the wake of Sir Paul Nurse’s grotesquely biased, scientifically inaccurate Horizon documentary for the BBC. Seriously, you’d have thought I was Charles Manson.
But what does all this mean? Well, it means fairly obviously, that the tone of the debate on “climate change” is becoming increasingly shrill, bitter and nasty. And the reason it’s going that way is because the Warmists are getting desperate. The “science” is deserting them; and so too are their public. An interesting recent example of this are the two plays which have just opened in London, one written from a sceptical perspective, the other from a fervently warmist one.
The warmist one – Greenland at the National Theatre – has bombed, panned by the critics as worthy, imbalanced and dull. The sceptical one – The Heretic, which I’m off to see soon at the Royal Court Theatre – has been getting rave reviews. Now clearly, it would be foolish to read too much into this: one happens to be nimble, inventive and well-written by a playwright who knows what he’s doing, the other was clearly a misbegotten commission right from the start.
What is significant, though, is the tone of the critical pannings Greenland has received. Here for example is the Telegraph’s Charles Spencer, describing what he calls “one of the shrillest and most irritating shows in recent memory.”
The characters are little more than taking heads, ranging from a climate modeller who discovers that global warming is much worse than anyone has previously suspected (surprise, surprise) to a teaching student who abandons her course to join a troupe of radical environmentalists and, for reasons that eluded me, spends much of the evening suspended from the flies in a supermarket trolley. Then there’s a civil servant who doesn’t feel she can have a child because the future is so bleak, and a nutty professor studying guillemots on an island off Alaska, who has a close encounter with a splendidly realistic polar bear – the one engaging moment in a terrible show.
Like Fraser in Dad’s Army, Greenland repeatedly warns that we are doomed, and that unless we mend our ways, sharpish, it will serve us jolly well right. Needless to say, climate-change sceptics aren’t given a voice in either the play or the hectoring programme notes.
Now Charles Spencer is not – or certainly wasn’t until recently – a climate sceptic. I’ve known him for many years but when we last spoke a couple of years ago he nearly became a very much ex-old friend by making some sneerily dismissive personal remark about my views on climate change: ie that I was some kind of fascist loon in denial of the consensus wisdom of all the world’s greatest scientists and probably needed my head examining.
If people like Charlie Spencer – touchstone of Middle English values – are starting to lose their faith in the AGW “Consensus” (and I believe they very much are) then the situation for the Warmist movement is indeed getting desperate.
I wish I could say that this means that soon the Warmists will realise the game is up, apologise for all the time and money they’ve wasted, send people like me big bunches of flowers to show how very sorry they are, and get proper jobs where they actually earn their living instead of leeching off the taxpayers’ back.
Something tells me this ain’t going to happen.